The Latest | Israel's killing of aid workers in Gaza threatens much-needed food deliveries

By The Associated Press
Posted 2:49AM on Wednesday 3rd April 2024 ( 1 month ago )

Israeli airstrikes on aid workers delivering food in Gaza killed at least seven people — including a U.S.-Canada dual citizen and citizens of Australia, Poland and the United Kingdom. It's the latest Israeli military action to hit humanitarian efforts in the besieged Palestinian territory.

World Central Kitchen, the charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, immediately paused operations in the region, delivering a blow to the recently opened sea route for food aid. Ships carrying food sailed away from Gaza after arriving just a day earlier.

Israel says the strikes were an accident and that officials are investigating. The U.N. says at least 180 humanitarian workers have been killed in the war so far.

The U.S., which has provided key military and diplomatic support for Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, had hoped the sea route would allow more food to enter the territory. In northern Gaza, the United Nations says much of the population is on the brink of starvation. South Africa has accused Israel of acts of genocide in its war in Gaza and filed a case at the United Nations’ highest court — charges Israel strongly denies.

After nearly six months, Israel's war in Gaza has killed nearly 33,000 Palestinians, the territory's Health Ministry says. The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its tally, but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead. The war began on Oct. 7, when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 people hostage.


— Family and friends recall ‘brave’ and ‘selfless’ aid workers killed in Israeli airstrikes.

— Tehran vows response after strike blamed on Israel destroyed Iran’s Consulate in Syria and killed 12.

Palestinians seek full U.N. membership again, but the U.S. is almost certain to block it for a second time.

— Forced from their Gaza home by Israeli troops, a family makes a terrifying escape through a war zone.

— World Central Kitchen is saving lives with food but paying a price in blood.

— Find more AP coverage at

Here's the latest:


WASHINGTON — The U.S. is concerned that the airstrike widely blamed on Israel that destroyed Iran’s Consulate in Damascus could trigger new attacks on American troops by Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, the top U.S. Air Force commander for the Middle East said Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich said Iran’s assertion that the U.S. bears responsibility for Israeli actions could bring an end to the pause in militia attacks on U.S. forces that has lasted since early February. He said he sees no specific threat to U.S. troops right now, but “I am concerned because of the Iranian rhetoric talking about the U.S., that there could be a risk to our forces”

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said Tuesday that the U.S. assessed that the airstrike in the Syrian capital of Damascus was done by Israel. The strike killed 12 people, including two Iranian generals and a member of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Grynkewich told reporters the U.S. is watching and listening carefully to what Iran is saying and doing to evaluate how Tehran might respond. Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria were launching repeated attacks on U.S. forces at bases in those countries late last year, and in late January killed three U.S. service members and injured dozens more at a base in Jordan.

In retaliation, the U.S. launched a massive air assault, hitting more than 85 targets at seven locations in Iraq and Syria, including command and control headquarters, drone and ammunition storage sites and other facilities connected to the militias or the IRGC’s Quds Force, the Guard’s expeditionary unit that handles Tehran’s relationship with and arming of regional militias. There have been no attacks on U.S. troops in the region since that response.


WASHINGTON -- White House national security spokesman John Kirby on Wednesday underscored that the Biden administration continues to support Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas following this week’s Israeli strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers.

Still, Kirby said Israel must do more to not kill and wound innocent civilians and aid workers as it carries out its operations in Gaza.

“As a modern military and a democracy, they have obligations to the innocent people of Gaza and they have not always have met those obligations,” Kirby said. “We are concerned about the methods too.”

The strikes on the charity’s convoy highlighted what critics have called Israel’s indiscriminate bombing and lack of regard for civilian casualties in Gaza. Israel blames Hamas for civilian deaths, saying it operates in populated areas.

Kirby, however, said the U.S. has no plans to conduct its own investigation of the strikes.

“We expect the Israelis to conduct a thorough and comprehensive, complete and transparent investigation,” Kirby said. ”We look forward to finding out the results of that investigation. And we’ll move on from there.”


JERUSALEM — Celebrity chef José Andrés has called on Israel to open land crossings for aid and stop killing civilians.

Andrés is the founder of World Central Kitchen, the international food charity whose seven workers were killed in a series of Israeli strikes late Monday.

In an op-ed published by Israel’s mass-selling Yediot Ahronot on Wednesday, Andrés wrote that “the Israeli government needs to open land routes to food and medicine today. It needs to stop killing civilians and aid workers today.”

“After the worst terrorist attack in its history, it’s time for the best of Israel to show up,” he wrote, referring to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that ignited the war in Gaza. “You cannot save the hostages by bombing every building in Gaza. You cannot win this war by starving an entire population."

He noted that his charity provides meals to those in need in all over the world, including in Israel after the attack that triggered the war.

Israel has acknowledged carrying out the strikes by mistake and says it has launched an independent investigation.

But Andrés said the strikes, which killed six international aid workers and their Palestinian driver, “were not just some unfortunate mistake in the fog of war.”

“It was a direct attack on clearly marked vehicles whose movements were known by the (Israeli military). It was also the direct result of his government’s policy to squeeze humanitarian aid to desperate levels,” Andrés wrote.

Israel has severely restricted access to northern Gaza, where experts say famine is imminent. Andrés’ charity and other aid groups suspended their operations after the deadly strike, saying it had become too dangerous to operate in Gaza.


TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard has warned Israel over an airstrike that destroyed Iran’s consulate in Damascus and killed 12 people, including two Iranian generals.

Gen. Ramazan Sharif, a spokesman for the guard, said Wednesday that “soon we will see deadlier blows to the Zionist regime and the Resistance Front will carry out its duties in this regard.”

He appeared to be referring to Iran and its allies across the region, including the Lebanese Hezbollah and armed groups in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. They have repeatedly traded fire with Israel and the U.S. since the start of the war in Gaza, raising fears of a wider conflict.

Monday’s airstrike on the Syrian capital was widely blamed on Israel, which has not said whether it was involved.

Sharif accused Israel of trying to avenge Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war in Gaza, saying it “will get nowhere, and the motivation of our soldiers will be multiplied.”

He also accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of using such strikes to divert public attention from “the racist nature of this regime."


BERLIN – Germany is expressing concern about new legislation that clears the way for the closure of Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to push ahead with the removal of what he called a “terror channel” from the country on Monday after parliament passed the law.

The foreign ministry in Germany, a staunch ally of Israel, said Wednesday that it views the legislation “with concern.” Spokesperson Sebastian Fischer said a free and diverse media landscape is a central tenet of liberal democracy, “and Israel understands itself as a liberal democracy.”

Asked by an Al Jazeera reporter whether Germany agrees with Netanyahu’s assessment of Qatari-based TV network, Fischer replied: “We have regularly given interviews on Al Jazeera, and wouldn’t do that if it Al Jazeera were a terror channel from our point of view.”


TEL AVIV — Israel police said an Arab resident from northern Israel carried out a car-ramming attack, wounding four police officers and attempting to stab security forces at a checkpoint before he was killed by police.

The attack, carried out by a 26-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel from the Arab town of Tira, occurred around 2 a.m. Wednesday.

The police were lightly wounded and evacuated for medical treatment.

Palestinian citizens make up around 20% of Israel’s population. They have citizenship, including the right to vote, but face widespread discrimination. They have close family ties to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza and largely support the Palestinian cause, leading some Israelis to view them with suspicion.

The attacks came amid heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Hamas militant group has called on Palestinians to attack Israelis during the month-long holiday. There have been several stabbing and ramming attacks at checkpoints during Ramadan and since the start of the war.

Violence has surged in the occupied West Bank since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack triggered the war in Gaza.


JERUSALEM — Israel’s military chief says a deadly Israeli strike that killed seven aid workers in the Gaza Strip was the result of a “misidentification” in complex conditions.

Announcing the results of a preliminary investigation early Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi expressed remorse over the killings and called the event a “grave mistake.”

“It was a mistake that followed a misidentification – at night during a war in very complex conditions. It shouldn’t have happened,” he said. He gave no further details.

He said an independent body would conduct a “thorough investigation” that would be completed in the coming days, and said the army appreciates the “important work” of the World Central Kitchen.

He said the conclusions of the independent investigation would be implemented immediately and shared with World Central Kitchen and other “relevant” international organizations.

“We see great importance in the continued delivery of humanitarian aid, and we will keep working to facilitate this vital effort,” he said.

World Central Kitchen said it had coordinated with the Israeli military over the movement of its cars. Three vehicles that were moving at large distances apart were hit in succession. They were left incinerated and mangled, indicating multiple targeted strikes.

At least one of the vehicles had the charity’s logo printed across its roof to make it identifiable from the air, and the ordnance punched a large hole through the roof.

The strikes on the charity’s convoy highlighted what critics say is Israel’s indiscriminate bombing and lack of regard for civilian casualties in Gaza. Israeli authorities blame Hamas militants for civilian deaths because the fighters operate in populated areas.


MELBOURNE, Australia — Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu has provided an undertaking for “full transparency” in an investigation of how seven aid workers including an Australian woman who were killed by airstrikes in Gaza.

Albanese said he had “expressed Australia’s anger and concern” over Zomi Frankcom’s death in a phone call with Netanyahu on Wednesday.

“I emphasized the importance of full accountability and transparency and Prime Minister Netanyahu has committed to full transparency about how this tragedy could possibly have occurred,” Albanese told reporters.

“There is a need for a thorough investigation into what happened here and Prime Minister Netanyahu committed to that,” Albanese added.

Israel had accepted responsibility for the attack on a World Central Kitchen aid convoy and the consequent investigation must be “very fast, immediate, clear and transparent,” Albanese said.

“I conveyed to Prime Minister Netanyahu in very clear terms that Australians were outraged by this death, by this tragedy, of this fine Australian,” Albanese said.

“This is an Australian who we can all be proud of, someone who not only was in Gaza assisting people in need, but had in the past provided support for people in Bangladesh, in Pakistan, here in Australia after the bushfires. This was someone who was clearly committed to benefit her fellow humanity, and someone ... whose loss is very deeply felt by her family, but I think felt by Australians as well,” Albanese added.


TORONTO — Canada and other nations’ embassies will present a joint formal diplomatic rebuke to the Israeli Foreign Ministry over the country’s killing of seven aid workers in Gaza, a senior Canadian government official said.

A top official with Canada’s Global Affairs department has also made a formal representation to Israel ambassador to Canada on Tuesday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

The Canadian official did not elaborate on which nations would take part in the formal rebuke, known as a demarche. But the dead from Monday night’s strikes included a Canadian-American dual national, a Palestinian, three British citizens, and Polish and Australia nationals. Those Western countries have been key backers of Israel’s nearly 6-month-old offensive in Gaza, and several of them sharply condemned the killings.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged that the military had carried out the “unintended strike ... on innocent people.” He said officials were investigating and would work to ensure it did not happen again.


UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations says Israel's “heartbreaking” killing of seven aid workers in airstrikes “is the inevitable result of the way this war is currently being conducted,” pointing to the killing of more than 180 humanitarian workers so far.

The World Central Kitchen staff's recent deaths show “a disregard for international humanitarian law and a disregard for the protection of humanitarian workers” that the law requires, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Tuesday.

At least one of the vehicles had the charity’s logo printed across its roof to make it identifiable from the air, and the ordnance punched a large hole through the roof. Three vehicles moving at large distances apart were hit in succession. They were left incinerated and mangled, indicating multiple targeted strikes.

Dujarric said Sigrid Kaag, the senior U.N. humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for Gaza, met with the World Central Kitchen team Monday in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah — just hours before they were killed. Kaag is “appalled” at the attack, Dujarric said.

World Central Kitchen, which is a partner of the U.N. World Food Program, has suspended operations in the region along with other aid organizations, dealing a blow to the delivery of desperately needed aid to Gaza’s 2.3 million hungry people, including hundreds of thousands of people who are near starvation.

Israel has called the airstrikes an accident and says it’s investigating.

Dujarric was asked what his message is to Israel. “The message is let humanitarian workers do their job. They need to be able to do it in safety.”


WASHINGTON — The United States military believes Israel carried out the recent airstrike on Iran’s Consulate in Syria and that several senior leaders of the Revolutionary Guard were present.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said Tuesday that it is the U.S. assessment that Israel conducted the strike on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus and that “there were a handful IRGC top leaders there.”

Israel, which has repeatedly targeted Iranian officers in Syria and in Lebanon, did not comment on Monday’s attack.

Iran has vowed to respond to the attack that killed 12 people including two Iranian generals and a member of the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group, which is backed by Iran.

Israel, increasingly impatient with months of cross-border fighting with Hezbollah, has warned of the possibility of a full-fledged war.

The U.S. National Security Council said the United States played no role in the strike in Damascus and did not know of it ahead of time.

Israeli soldiers rest on top of their tank on the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
A ship belonging to the Open Arms aid group and is one of three ships loaded with canned food destined to Gaza, has returned to the Cypriot port of Larnaca, Cyprus, Wednesday, April 3, 2024. Cyprus, which has played a key role in setting up the maritime corridor, said the ships that had arrived Monday were returning to the Mediterranean island nation with some 240 tons of undelivered aid, after seven aid workers were killed. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Members of the World Central Kitchen aid group, transports the body of one of the six foreign aid workers who were killed in an Israeli strike, at a hospital morgue in Rafah, Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

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