Published: 10:12, April 3, 2024 | Updated: 09:53, April 4, 2024
US 'outraged' by deadly Israeli airstrike on Gaza aid workers
By Xinhua

Palestinians inspect a vehicle with the logo of the World Central Kitchen wrecked by an Israeli airstrike in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, April 2, 2024. A series of airstrikes killed aid workers from the international charity, leading it to suspend delivery of vital food aid to Gaza. (PHOTO / AP)

WASHINGTON / UNITED NATIONS - The White House said on Tuesday that it was "outraged" by the news that seven members of a food charity group were killed by Israeli forces in an airstrike in Gaza.

John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council, told a press briefing at the White House that the United States was aware of comments from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israel Defense Forces acknowledging responsibility for and pledging investigation into Monday's fatal strike on a convoy of World Central Kitchen (WCK) en route to distributing food to innocent Gazans devastated by Israel's military operation.

For his part, Sejourne expressed France's "firm condemnation of the Israeli strike" that killed the WCK personnel, including a US-Canadian dual national, an Australian, three Britons, a Palestinian and a Pole

A preliminary probe by Israel has been completed Tuesday, Kirby added. "But we expect a broader investigation to be conducted and to be done so in a swift and comprehensive manner. We hope those findings will be made public and that there is appropriate accountability."

"More than 200 aid workers have been killed in this conflict, making it one of the worst for aid workers in recent history," he said. "This incident is emblematic of a larger problem and evidence of why distribution of aid in Gaza has been so challenging. But beyond the strike, what is clear is that the IDF must do much more to improve deconfliction processes so civilians and humanitarian aid workers are protected."

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during the briefing that US President Joe Biden called WCK founder and celebrity chef Jose Andres. The president, according to Jean-Pierre, "conveyed he will make clear to Israel that humanitarian aid workers must be protected."

Earlier in the day in Paris, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the Israeli government to conduct "a swift, a thorough, an impartial investigation to understand exactly what happened."

Map showing the most frequent land routes for delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, after inspection of trucks in Nitzana and Kerem Shalom. (GRAPHIC / AFP)

"And as we have throughout this conflict, we've impressed upon the Israelis the absolute imperative of doing more to protect innocent civilian lives, be they Palestinian children, women, and men or be they aid workers, as well as to get more humanitarian assistance to more people, more effectively," Blinken said in remarks at a joint press conference also attended by French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne.

For his part, Sejourne expressed France's "firm condemnation of the Israeli strike" that killed the WCK personnel, including a US-Canadian dual national, an Australian, three Britons, a Palestinian and a Pole.

The French top diplomat's remarks were seized by a reporter at the White House briefing to ask Kirby why the United States, unlike France, didn't explicitly condemn the strike.

"I think by (me) saying we're outraged, I think you can fairly characterize that as condemning the strike itself," Kirby said in response.

Emergency services work at a destroyed building hit by an air strike in Damascus, Syria, April 1, 2024. An Israeli airstrike has destroyed the consular section of Iran's embassy in Damascus. (PHOTO / AP)

The United Nations on Tuesday too voiced its condemnation. UN Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari told the Security Council emergency meeting on Israeli strike on Iran's Syria consulate, revealing that Iran reported the attack had led to the death of at least five Iranian personnel, including "senior military advisors," with the toll purportedly rising to 13, including six Syrian citizens.

These assertions were made amidst growing concerns over the "inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises" and the imperative respect for the "sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states," underscored Khiari.

The UN's appeal to the Security Council to "actively engage all concerned parties" underscores the critical need to avert further escalation and regional instability, said Khiari.