'Unintentionally hit innocent people': Netanyahu after Israeli strike kills aid workers

World Central Kitchen suspended its operation in the enclave

Israeli strike kills WCK aid workers A view of the destroyed roof of a vehicle where employees from the World Central Kitchen (WCK), including foreigners, were killed in an Israeli airstrike | Reuters

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said that the strike by the Israeli forces that killed seven humanitarian aid workers, while they were trying to deliver food to the displaced Gazans, was "unintentional".

Netanyahu described it as “a tragic case of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people in the Gaza Strip.”

"This happens in wartime. We are thoroughly looking into it, are in contact with the governments, and will do everything to ensure it does not happen again," Netanyahu added. 

The Israeli airstrike killed six international aid workers with the World Central Kitchen charity and its Palestinian driver on Tuesday. The food charity founded by celebrity chef Jos Andrs said early Tuesday that those killed include citizens of Australia, Poland, the United Kingdom and a US-Canada dual citizen. 

"Despite coordinating movements with the [Israeli army], the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route," said WCK. 

Israel's military has said it is investigating the claim and said it expressed "sincere sorrow" over the killings. 

Israeli military spokesperson, Rear Adm Daniel Hagari, said the incident would be investigated in the “Fact Finding and Assessment Mechanism”, which his statement called an “independent, professional, and expert body.”

Following the incident, the WCK has suspended its operations in the Palestinian enclave. Meanwhile, reportedly, Cyprus foreign ministry said that a ship carrying 240 tonnes of aid to Gaza is set to turn around. UNRWA had warned that disrupting Gaza aid functioning would have severe consequences. 

World leaders condemned the strike

Seeking an explanation behind the incident, Polish President Andrzej Duda demanded an investigation. 

"It is with deep pain that I learned about the deaths in the Gaza Strip of the volunteers from the World Central Kitchen organisation, including a Polish citizen. My thoughts are with their loved ones," President Duda posted on X.

"These brave people changed the world for the better with their service and dedication to others. This tragedy should never have happened and must be explained," he added.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the death of Australian aid worker Lalzawmi "Zomi" Frankcom was a "tragedy that should never have occurred" and calls for "full accountability".

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also expressed his shock. “Clearly there are questions that need to be answered," he said. 

The White House said it is "heartbroken and deeply troubled by the strike". US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson urged Israel to “swiftly investigate what happened".

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen also paid tribute to the aid workers who lost their lives in action.

Meanwhile, according to Netanyahu's office, a new proposal for a Gaza truce and hostage release has been drafted and given to Hamas. 

"As part of the talks, with the helpful mediation of Egypt, the mediators formulated an up-to-date proposal to be addressed by Hamas," his office says in a statement.

It adds that Israel expects the mediators to push Hamas harder to reach a deal. 

"The State of Israel is continuing to make all necessary efforts for the release of the hostages from Hamas and their return to Israel," it said.

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