EVENT ENDED

7 aid workers killed in strike

The members were traveling in a “deconflicted zone” in a “soft skin vehicle” and two armored cars with the organization’s logo, the group said in a statement.

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What we know

  • The World Central Kitchen aid organization said in a statement that seven of its members were killed in the Gaza Strip while working on food distribution efforts. An NBC News crew saw the bodies of people wearing clothing with the World Central Kitchen logo as they were taken into Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the city of Deir al-Balah.
  • The members were traveling in a "deconflicted zone" in a "soft skin vehicle" and two armored cars with the organization's logo, it said in a statement. Despite coordinating movements with the Israel Defense Forces, “the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route," it said.
  • “This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable,” World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore said in the statement.
  • Tehran has blamed Israel for an airstrike that killed a senior Iranian military commander near the Iranian Embassy in Syria today. Israeli officials declined to comment on the incident, which risks worsening the already high tensions in the region.
  • The Israeli military has withdrawn from Gaza's main hospital after a two-week raid. The Israel Defense Forces said its troops and tanks had withdrawn from Al-Shifa after killing hundreds of Hamas fighters, as well as seizing weapons and intelligence documents.
  • The World Health Organization said 21 patients died during the operation, which left the medical complex in ruins and those sheltering at the site in dire conditions. Palestinian officials said bodies had been left scattered in the dirt around burned-out buildings.
  • Tens of thousands of Israelis marched against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last night in the largest protest since the war began. The crowds who gathered in Jerusalem, including families of Israelis still held in Gaza, called for new elections.
  • The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 32,800, including at least 27 people who have died of malnutrition, according to the enclave's Health Ministry. Another 75,000 have been reported injured. The Israeli military said at least 252 soldiers have been killed since the ground invasion of Gaza began.
2w ago / 1:46 AM EDT

7 World Central Kitchen members killed in IDF airstrike, group says

The World Central Kitchen said seven of its members were killed in an airstrike carried out by the Israel Defense Forces.

The members of the aid group were traveling in a "soft skin" vehicle and two armored cars with the World Central Kitchen logo on them when they were struck Monday, the organization said in a statement.

The group added that the convoy was struck despite having coordinated movements with the IDF, and that members at the time were leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where they had unloaded over 100 tons of humanitarian food aid.

“This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable,” World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore said.

The members who were killed were from Australia, Poland, the United Kingdom, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada and Palestine, the WCK said.

The group added that the IDF said it was investigating the circumstances around the incident. In the meantime, it said, it will immediately pause operations in the region and make "decisions about the future of our work soon."

2w ago / 10:30 PM EDT

'Attempts to sideline UNRWA must stop,' U.N. humanitarian chief says

U.N. Emergency Humanitarian Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths backed the organization's agency for Palestinian refugees after Israel rejected requests for it to distribute aid in northern Gaza.

"UNRWA is the backbone of the humanitarian operation in Gaza," Griffiths said on X. "Any effort to distribute aid without them is simply doomed to fail."

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres also wrote on X in support of UNRWA, calling it a "lifeline of hope."

The Guardian reported yesterday, based on unnamed U.N. sources, that Israeli officials offered the U.N. a plan to dismantle UNRWA and redistribute its responsibility to other aid organizations. NBC News has not verified the report.

In a report today, the U.N. said that no senior official in the region has received such a plan and that its position on the necessity of UNRWA remains unchanged.

2w ago / 9:51 PM EDT

U.S. tells Iran it didn't know about plans for strike on consulate

Carol E. LeeCarol E. Lee is the Washington managing editor.

The Biden administration communicated directly to Iran today that the U.S. didn't know about the strike on its consulate in Damascus and wasn't involved in any way, according to two U.S. officials. 

Two other U.S. officials said the administration was told about the operation in Syria while Israeli planes were in the air but didn’t know what the target was. 

"The United States had no involvement in the strike, and we did not know about it ahead of time," a spokesperson for the National Security Council said in a statement. 

U.S. officials still don’t have independent confirmation that Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Mohammed Reza Zahedi was among those killed in the strike, according to two additional U.S. officials. 

Israeli officials have declined to comment on the strike.

2w ago / 9:21 PM EDT

Thousands of Israelis turn out for third day of anti-government protests

Reuters

JERUSALEM— Thousands of Israelis took to the streets in Jerusalem today, continuing a three-day protest against the Netanyahu's government and demanding new elections.

The protests have gathered in intensity as the war in Gaza nears the end of its sixth month and anger at the government’s handling of the 134 Israeli hostages still held by the Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza has grown.

“We’re here to protest, to ask for having elections as soon as possible. We feel like we got it to the edge. We really need to get rid of Bibi,” said Timna Benn, a protester in Jerusalem, using Netanyahu’s nickname.

Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition faced some of the biggest protests in Israel’s history last year, when hundreds of thousands joined weekly demonstrations against plans to overhaul the powers of the Supreme Court, which protesters saw as an attack on Israel’s democratic foundations.

2w ago / 8:36 PM EDT

World Central Kitchen lost 'several brothers and sisters,' founder José Andrés says

Chef José Andrés is "heartbroken and grieving" the reported deaths of World Central Kitchen staff members in Gaza tonight.

Andrés, the organization's founder, wrote on X that members of the team were killed in an IDF airstrike. He described them as "angels" whom he worked beside in several countries, including Turkey and Ukraine.

They are not nameless, Andrés wrote.

"The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing," he said. "It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon. No more innocent lives lost."

2w ago / 8:04 PM EDT

Australian officials working to confirm death of aid worker

The Australian government is working to confirm reports that one of its citizens has been killed while working in Gaza, a Foreign Affairs Department spokesperson said in a statement.

"We have been clear on the need for civilian lives to be protected in this conflict," the statement said. "We have been very clear that we expect humanitarian workers in Gaza to have safe and unimpeded access to do their lifesaving work."

It provided no additional details, citing privacy concerns.

Palestinians carry the body of a person killed in an Israeli airstrike into the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah.Abdel Kareem Hana / AP
2w ago / 7:30 PM EDT

World Central Kitchen aid workers reportedly killed in Gaza

The World Central Kitchen aid organization said in a statement tonight that it was aware of reports that members of its team were killed while working on food distribution efforts, and an NBC News crew saw the bodies of people wearing clothing with the World Central Kitchen logo as they were taken in to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah.

“This is a tragedy,” the organization said. “Humanitarian aid workers and civilians should NEVER be a target. EVER.”

The Gaza Government Media office, which is run by Hamas, said at least four foreign aid workers and one Palestinian were killed in an Israeli strike.

The NBC News crew saw at least two people taken into the hospital wearing flak jackets with the World Central Kitchen logo, and a third wore a World Central Kitchen T-shirt.

Three of those killed had passports with them, which were seen by NBC News, identifying them as citizens of the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland. NBC News is working to confirm their identities.

Passports of some of the victims of an attack on a vehicle belonging to the World Central Kitchen in Deir al-Balah.Anadolu via Getty Images

Ismail Al-Thawabta, spokesperson for the Gaza Government Media Office, said a fourth worker was unidentified and a fifth was a Palestinian working with the aid crew.

The Israel Defense Forces said it was reviewing the incident "at the highest levels."

"The IDF makes extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, and has been working closely with WCK in their vital efforts to provide food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza," the military said.

2w ago / 6:47 PM EDT

Israel agrees to consider U.S. concerns over Rafah ground invasion

The Israeli group who spoke with U.S. officials, including Blinken, agreed to take concerns about a Rafah invasion into consideration.

A joint statement the White House released today included a short summary of the virtual meeting of a U.S.-Israel Strategic Consultative Group, which included Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan. The Israeli side of the delegation was led by National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer.

"The two sides over the course of two hours had a constructive engagement on Rafah," the statement said. "They agreed that they share the objective to see Hamas defeated in Rafah."

A follow-up meeting is expected as early as next week.

A Palestinian child cries today as the victims of an Israeli bombardment are brought to the al-Najjar hospital in Rafah, southern Gaza.Said Khatib / AFP - Getty Images
2w ago / 6:16 PM EDT

U.S. extends naval carrier deployment in the Red Sea, defense officials say

Mosheh Gains
Courtney Kube and Mosheh Gains

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier and elements of the carrier strike group have had their deployment in the Red Sea extended as the U.S. continues to fight Houthi rebels in the region, according to three U.S. defense officials.

The ships deployed Oct. 14 and have been under a crushing operational tempo without breaks or port calls for months. They had been scheduled to depart the region and start heading back to the U.S. last week, but U.S. Central Command requested they be extended, which Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved several days ago.

Crews were scheduled to operate in the European Command area but have spent most of their deployment in the Red Sea, conducting airstrikes against the Houthis in Yemen and defending against Houthi attacks nearly every day.

NBC News has exclusive video of flight ops on the Eisenhower during airstrikes into Yemen in February, as well as exclusive video of a missile launch to intercept an incoming Houthi missile.

There are more than 5,000 sailors on the Eisenhower, the flagship of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, which also includes a cruiser — the USS Philippine Sea — and two destroyers —the USS Mason and the USS Gravely.

2w ago / 5:03 PM EDT

Blinken speaks with Abbas about new Palestinian Authority government and reforms needed for results

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke on the phone today, their offices said, to discuss the new government formed after criticism that the Palestinian Authority needed change.

U.S. officials, who have supported the idea of an independent Palestinian state, have pushed the occupied West Bank's governing body to implement reforms since the war began. During the call, Blinken's office said, he told Abbas that a "revitalized PA is essential to delivering results for the Palestinian people in both the West Bank and Gaza."

Abbas' office also released a readout of the call, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA. Abbas raised concerns about a pending Rafah ground invasion, humanitarian needs in Gaza and the "necessity of immediately stopping the continuing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people."

"The President also reiterated that the Gaza Strip is an integral part of the Palestinian state, and it is not possible to accept or deal with the plans of the occupation authorities to separate it, or to cut off any inch of its land, and it falls under the responsibility of the State of Palestine and under its administration," WAFA reported.