HomePoliticsWith famine looming, the aid group is halting food deliveries in Gaza...

With famine looming, the aid group is halting food deliveries in Gaza after an Israeli strike killed seven workers

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Some of Israel’s closest allies, including the United States, condemned Tuesday the deaths of seven aid workers killed in airstrikes in Gaza — a loss that has prompted several charities to cut food deliveries to the Gaza Strip to suspend. Palestinians on the brink of famine.

The deaths of the World Central Kitchen workers threatened to undermine efforts by the US and other countries to open a maritime corridor for aid from Cyprus to help alleviate desperate conditions in northern Gaza.

President Joe Biden delivered an unusually blunt criticism of Israel from his close ally, suggesting the incident showed Israel was not doing enough to protect civilians.

“Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to provide desperately needed assistance to civilians,” he said, adding that he was “outraged and heartbroken” by their killings.

“Incidents like yesterday’s simply should not happen,” he added. “The United States has repeatedly urged Israel to combine its military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations to prevent civilian casualties.”

Ships still loaded with some 240 tons of aid from the charity group returned from Gaza just a day after arriving, according to Cyprus. Other humanitarian aid organizations also suspended operations in Gaza, saying it was too dangerous to provide aid. Israel has allowed only a trickle of food and supplies into devastated northern Gaza, where experts say there is a threat of famine.

Those killed as a result of Monday night’s strikes included three British nationals, Polish and Australian nationals, a Canadian-American dual national and a Palestinian. These countries have been key supporters of Israel’s nearly six-month offensive in Gaza, and several of them have denounced the killings.

Israel is already facing growing isolation as international criticism of the Gaza attack mounts. On the same day as the deadly airstrikes, Israel stoked further fear by apparently attacking the Iranian consulate in Damascus and killing two Iranian generals. The government has also taken steps to shut down a foreign media outlet: Qatar-owned Al Jazeera Television.

The hit on the charity’s convoy also highlighted what critics call Israel’s indiscriminate bombing and lack of attention to civilian casualties in Gaza.

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Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi announced the results of a preliminary investigation early Wednesday.

“It was an error that followed a misidentification – at night during a war under very complex circumstances. It shouldn’t have happened,” he said. He did not provide further details. He said an independent body would conduct a “thorough investigation” that would be completed in the coming days.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously acknowledged the “unintentional attack … on innocent people” and said officials would work to ensure it does not happen again.

World Central Kitchen said it had coordinated with the Israeli military on the relocation of its cars. Three vehicles traveling a great distance apart were hit consecutively. They were left burned and mutilated, indicating multiple targeted attacks.

At least one of the vehicles had the charity’s logo printed on the roof to make it recognizable from the air, and the ammunition punched a large hole through the roof. Images showed the bodies at a hospital in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah, some wearing protective clothing with the charity’s logo.

Israeli television said the initial military investigation showed that the army identified the cars occupied by World Central Kitchen workers who arrived at the warehouse in Deir al-Balah and observed suspected militants nearby. Half an hour later, the vehicles heading south were hit by the air force. According to the reports, it was not clear who ordered the strikes and why.

Israel has said throughout the war that it wants to avoid civilian casualties and uses advanced intelligence to attack Hamas and other militants. Israeli authorities blame them for civilian deaths because they operate in populated areas.

At the same time, Israel has also insisted that no target is off limits. Israeli forces have repeatedly attacked ambulances and aid vehicles, as well as aid agency offices and UN shelters, claiming they contained armed fighters.

The Israeli forces have also demonstrated their willingness to cause widespread destruction on suspicion of a militant presence or out of tactical necessity. Houses sheltering Palestinian families are razed almost daily by strikes, with no explanation as to the intended target. Videos of attacks released by the military often show them hitting individuals without visible weapons while identifying them as militants.

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According to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and fighters in its count, more than 32,900 Palestinians have been killed in the war, about two-thirds of whom were women and children.

Celebrity chef José Andrés, who founded the charity World Central Kitchen, said he was “heartbroken” by the deaths of the staffers.

“The Israeli government must stop this arbitrary killing. It must stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

The US, Britain, Poland, Australia and Canada all called on Israel to provide answers over the deaths. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant launched an investigation and ordered the opening of a joint situation room that allowed coordination between the military and aid groups.

But anger among its allies could put new pressure on Israel.

The British government summoned the Israeli ambassador for a reprimand and called for an immediate humanitarian pause to allow more aid and the release of hostages.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told Netanyahu he was “shocked” by the deaths of the workers and described the situation in Gaza as “increasingly unbearable.”

A senior Canadian government official said a joint formal diplomatic rebuke will take place at the Foreign Ministry in Israel on Wednesday. The official also said a top official from Canada’s Global Affairs Department made a formal representation to the Israeli ambassador to Canada on Tuesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The deaths further chilled UN agencies and other aid groups, which have said for months that sending truck convoys around Gaza – especially in the north – has been extremely difficult because the military has failed to grant permission or provide safe passage. to guarantee. Israel has banned UNRWA, the main UN agency in Gaza, from making deliveries to the north.

The US and other countries have been working to set up sea passage from Cyprus to circumvent the problems.

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World Central Kitchen was key to the new route. The country and the United Arab Emirates sent a trial shipment last month. Their second delivery of about 400 tons of food and supplies arrived in Gaza in three ships, hours before the attack on the convoy.

About 100 tons were offloaded before the charity suspended operations, and the rest were returned to Cyprus, Cypriot Foreign Ministry spokesman Theodoros Gotsis said.

Still, Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides said on Tuesday that ship deliveries would continue.

Anera, a Washington-based aid group that has been active in the Palestinian territories for decades, said that in the wake of the strikes it was taking the “unprecedented” step of pausing its own operations in Gaza, where it had helped provide approximately 150,000 meals per day.

“The escalating risks associated with emergency services leave us no choice,” it said in a statement.

Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said the attacks were “not an isolated incident.” According to the UN, more than 180 humanitarian workers have died in the war.

“This is almost three times the death toll recorded in a single conflict in one year,” he said.

The war began when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel in a surprise attack on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostage. Israel responded with one of the deadliest and most destructive offensives in recent history.

Two other Israeli attacks late Monday killed at least 16 Palestinians, including eight children, in Rafah, where Israel has pledged to expand its ground operation. The city on the Egyptian border is now home to about 1.4 million Palestinians, most of whom have sought refuge from fighting elsewhere.

One attack hit a family home, killing 10 people, including five children, according to hospital records. Another case hit a gathering near a mosque, killing at least six people, including three children.

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Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press writers Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Poland; Rod McGuirk in Melbourne, Australia; Rob Gillies in Toronto; and Menelaos Hadjicostis in Nicosia, Cyprus, contributed to this report.

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Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

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