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IDF Chief Apologizes for Accidental Killing of Aid Workers

(JNS) The head of the IDF on Tuesday night, April 2 issued an official apology for the accidental killing of seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers in the Gaza Strip on Monday.

“I want to be very clear—the strike was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers. It was a mistake that followed a misidentification, at night during a war in very complex conditions. It shouldn’t have happened,” said IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi in an English video message posted to social media.

Halevi spoke after OC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman presented him with the findings of a preliminary investigation into the incident.

The initial probe into the incident will be released to the public in the coming days, while a more in-depth investigation is ongoing. The larger investigation is being conducted by the IDF’s Fact Finding and Assessment Mechanism, an independent body of professionals and experts.

According to details from the report published by Channel 12 on Wednesday, at 10:30 p.m. on the night of the incident, armed men were spotted near the WCK vehicles, but no strike was authorized as Israeli forces had identified the convoy.

However, around 30 minutes later, as the three-vehicle convoy began traveling south on the coastal road to Rafah from the warehouse at Deir al-Balah in central Gaza where they had dropped off food, a decision was apparently made to launch the strike. The IDF is investigating why the order was given, and by whom.

“We will continue taking immediate actions to ensure that more is done to protect humanitarian aid workers,” Halevi said, describing the incident as a “grave mistake” and emphasizing that Israel is at war with the Hamas terrorist organization and not with the people of Gaza.

“We are sorry for the unintentional harm to the members of WCK. We share in the grief of their families, as well as the entire World Central Kitchen organization, from the bottom of our hearts.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog also apologized for the incident in a phone call on Tuesday with World Central Kitchen founder, celebrity chef José Andrés.

“President Herzog expressed his deep sorrow and sincere apologies over the tragic loss of life of WCK staff in the Gaza Strip last night, and sent his condolences to their families and loved ones,” according to a Foreign Ministry readout of the call.

“The president reiterated Israel’s commitment to ensuring a thorough investigation of the tragedy, which occurred amidst the ongoing war against the terrorist organization Hamas,” the statement continued.

“The president affirmed Israel’s commitment to delivering and upgrading humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, and said that efforts must continue to bring about the immediate release of all the hostages held by Hamas.

World Central Kitchen announced that it was suspending its aid operations in Gaza following the incident, which involved the delivery of a shipment of hundreds of tons of food and humanitarian aid that began its journey at the port of Larnaca in Cyprus.

U.S. President Joe Biden stated on Tuesday night that the deaths of the aid workers, including an American, are “not a stand-alone incident.”

“This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed. This is a major reason why distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza has been so difficult—because Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians,” Biden claimed.

“Incidents like yesterday’s simply should not happen. Israel has also not done enough to protect civilians,” he said. “The United States has repeatedly urged Israel to deconflict their military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations, in order to avoid civilian casualties.”

Biden noted that Israel is investigating the airstrike. “That investigation must be swift, it must bring accountability, and its findings must be made public,” the president said.

He added that he will “continue to press Israel to do more to facilitate” humanitarian aid in Gaza.

“We are pushing hard for an immediate ceasefire as part of a hostage deal,” Biden said. “I have a team in Cairo working on this right now.”

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