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Biden Says Israel 'Has Not Done Enough To Protect Aid Workers' In Gaza

03.04.2024 03:57

US president says Israeli probe into killing of World Central Kitchen aid workers 'must be swift' and 'its findings must be made public'

US President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he is "outraged" and "heartbroken" over an Israeli airstrike in Gaza that killed seven people working for World Central Kitchen (WCK), highlighting that Israel "has not done enough to protect aid workers."

"They were providing food to hungry civilians in the middle of a war. They were brave and selfless. Their deaths are a tragedy," Biden said in a statement.

Noting that Israel has pledged to conduct a thorough investigation into the killings, he said "that investigation must be swift, it must bring accountability, and its findings must be made public."

Biden said the war in Gaza has been 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," he said, adding that incidents like this should not happen.

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

Biden said the US will continue to do all it can to deliver humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza and will continue to press Israel to do more to facilitate that aid.

"And we are pushing hard for an immediate cease-fire as part of a hostage deal," he added.

According to the UN, 196 aid workers including more than 175 UN staff members have been killed since the start of the war in Gaza on Oct. 7 last year.

The WCK earlier confirmed that seven of its humanitarian aid workers were killed in Monday's "unforgivable" Israeli strikes.

Despite coordinating its movements with the Israeli military, the charity said the convoy was hit as it was leaving a warehouse in the southern city of Deir al-Balah after the team unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on a maritime route.

Pictures from the scene showed at least one vehicle with clear markings labeling it as part of World Central Kitchen.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack led by the Palestinian group Hamas which killed around 1,200 people.

At least 32,916 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza and over 75,000 injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation. That has dramatically heightened the need for international assistance in the coastal enclave amid stringent Israeli restrictions on its entry. -

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