Biden delivers Israel sharp rebuke after airstrike kills aid workers

Washington, Apr. 3, (dpa/GNA) – Following an Israeli airstrike which killed several foreign aid workers in the Gaza Strip, US President Joe Biden on Tuesday sharply rebuked Israel.

“This is not a stand-alone incident,” Biden said in a written statement on Tuesday evening.

“This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed,” Biden said, adding that this is one of the main reasons why the distribution of humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip is so difficult.

“Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians,” Biden said. “Incidents like yesterday’s simply should not happen.”

“Israel has also not done enough to protect civilians,” Biden continued. “The United States has repeatedly urged Israel to deconflict their military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations, in order to avoid civilian casualties.”

British, Australian, Polish, a US-Canadian dual citizen, and Palestinian nationals of the aid organization World Central Kitchen (WCK) in the Gaza Strip were killed when their convoy was hit by an Israeli airstrike on Monday night.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of a “tragic case of an unintentional strike by our armed forces against innocent people in the Gaza Strip.”

Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi said the attack was the result of a “misidentification” issue, citing a preliminary investigation into the events.

Halevi said that an “independent body” would investigate the incident and would be completed in the coming days and its findings shared with the WCK and other international organizations.

Biden called for a swift investigation and publication of its results. He said he was “outraged and heartbroken” by the deaths of the volunteers.

“They were providing food to hungry civilians in the middle of a war. They were brave and selfless. Their deaths are a tragedy,” the president said.

Criticism is growing of Israel’s overwhelming response given the soaring number of civilian casualties and catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza, including from its most important ally, the US.

Biden and his administration had long held back with public objections, but in recent weeks they have taken an increasingly strong tone towards the Israeli leadership.

Relations between the partners, including between Biden and Netanyahu, are severely strained.