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Biden 'outraged' at Israel over aid workers' deaths as Netanyahu rival Benny Gantz calls for new elections

Biden said he was ‘’outraged and heartbroken’’ after seven people who were working for the World Central Kitchen charity were killed in an Israeli airstrike on their convoy.

What we know

  • President Joe Biden said he was ''outraged and heartbroken'' as he leveled some of his harshest criticism yet at Israel over the killing of seven people working for World Central Kitchen and called on the country to do more to protect civilians and aid workers. The Israeli military's chief of staff, Gen. Herzi Halevi, said the attack was a ''mistake following a misidentification.''
  • The seven workers who were killed in the strike included a U.S. dual citizen and three British veterans, WCK said. The charity also told NBC News it believed an Israeli sniper fired on one of its vehicles two days before the deadly strike.
  • Water cannons were used to disperse thousands of protesters who had gathered for a third night to call for early elections in Israel and the release of the rest of the hostages held in Gaza. Protesters reached the front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's home in Jerusalem, and Israeli police say a Molotov cocktail was thrown.
  • Israeli minister Benny Gantz called for elections to be held in September, two years before Netanyahu's term is set to end. Gantz said an early election would restore public trust and prevent a "rift in the nation."
  • The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 32,900, according to the enclave's Health Ministry. Another 75,400 people have been reported injured. The Israeli military said at least 256 soldiers have been killed since the ground invasion of Gaza began.

Coverage on this live blog has ended. Follow live updates here.

Biden and Netanyahu to hold first call since Israeli strike killed World Central Kitchen workers

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to speak by phone tomorrow, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the call.

It will be their first direct communication since seven aid workers were killed by an Israeli strike in Gaza this week.

The discussion comes after Biden on Tuesday delivered some of his strongest criticism of Israel since the start of its war with Hamas, saying that he was “outraged and heartbroken” by the deaths of the World Central Kitchen humanitarian workers, who were killed by an Israeli airstrike on Monday.

“Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians,” Biden said in his statement Tuesday.

Read the full story here.

NBC News

José Andrés says his aid workers were targeted 'systematically, car by car'

José Andrés insisted on an investigation by the U.S government into the Israeli strike that killed seven people working with his aid organization in Gaza, saying they were targeted "systematically, car by car."

Israeli officials have opened an investigation into the strikes on three World Central Kitchen vehicles, saying that a misidentification led to the attack. Andrés rejected the assertion in an interview with Reuters, saying his teams worked in close coordination with Israel Defense Forces and were hit in military controlled, deconflicted zone.

“This was over a 1.5, 1.8 kilometers, with a very defined humanitarian convoy that had signs in the top, in the roof, a very colorful logo that we are obviously very proud of,” Andrés said.

He also added that it was "very clear who we are and what we do.”

Andrés said that investigations should be launched by the home countries of each of the six foreign aid workers killed, which includes the United States and the United Kingdom.

Iranian Supreme Leader says Israel will pay for attack on consulate building

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed revenge for the attack on the country's consulate building in Syria, which both Iran and Syrian officials have blamed on Israel.

Seven members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps., including two commanders, were killed in a strike on the ambassador's residence and a consular building. In a series of posts on X, Khamenei said that Israel "will receive a blow for their actions."

"The zionist entity’s attack on our consulate in Syria will not solve its problems in Gaza," Khamenei said. "The failure of the zionist entity in Gaza will continue, and desperate attempts such as the terrorist attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus will not save them from defeat."

Josep Borrell, foreign affairs representative for the European Commission, posted on X today that he spoke with the Iranian foreign minister about the strike.

"The inviolability of diplomatic premises and personnel must always be respected," Borrell wrote. "We need to avoid further escalation."

Sen. Schumer supports Gantz's call for new elections

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish official in the U.S., supported minister Benny Gantz's call for early elections today, describing it as the "right thing to do."

"When a leading member of Israel’s war cabinet calls for early elections and over 70% of the Israeli population agrees according to a major poll, you know it’s the right thing to do," Schumer wrote on X.

The statistic referenced by Schumer was from a poll from the Israel Democracy Institute published in February, which found a majority of Israeli voters wanted early elections.

Schumer urged Israel to hold new elections in a Senate floor speech last month, a rare public rebuke of the current leadership from one of Israel's strongest supporters in Congress. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Schumer, describing the senator's statement as an inappropriate intervention by a foreign politician during wartime.

NBC News

Spanish PM says Israeli explanation of aid workers attack is ‘insufficient and unacceptable’


DOHA — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said explanations provided by Israel about the killing of seven people working for the aid charity World Central Kitchen in a Gaza airstrike were insufficient and unacceptable, demanding further details.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident “a tragic event in which our forces unintentionally harmed non-combatants," adding that “this happens in war."

“That is unacceptable and insufficient, and we are awaiting a much stronger and more detailed clarification, after which we’ll see what action to take,” Sanchez told a news briefing on Wednesday while visiting Qatar.

World Central Kitchen was founded by Spanish American chef Jose Andres.

Displeasure with Biden’s handling of war on display at closed-door White House meeting


Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner

Monica Alba, Yamiche Alcindor and Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner

WASHINGTON — Just five minutes into a meeting with President Joe Biden, a Palestinian American doctor who has treated gravely injured patients in Gaza couldn’t bear to stay, so he left. 

Dr. Thaer Ahmad, who specializes in emergency medicine, recalled getting emotional when talking about the many Palestinians he cared for, describing the scale of death in the six months since the war began. 

“The decision to leave was a personal one,” he told NBC News in a phone interview, explaining he wanted to show the White House that “it was important to recognize the pain and the mourning that my community was in.” 

Ahmad stressed that he wanted “to let the administration feel the way that we felt this past six months and kind of get up and walk away from them.” 

He was one of only six Muslim American community leaders who attended a small meeting on Tuesday with Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and senior administration officials at the White House. 

Read the full story here.

Majority of U.K. voters support ending arms sales to Israel, Guardian reports

A YouGov poll 56% of voters in the United Kingdom support a ban on arms sales to Israel, according to an exclusive report by The Guardian today.

The poll was commissioned by Action for Humanity, a non-governmental aid organization based in the U.K., and was conducted prior to the Israeli strike that killed seven people working with World Central Kitchen.

When broken down by political affiliation, Labour voters and Lib Dem voters strongly supported an arms deal ban at 70% and 71%, respectively. The poll found that 38% of Conservative voters supported a ban.

Additionally, 59% of all voters polled said they believe Israel is violating human rights in Gaza.

Russia says any escalation after Iran consulate attack is on Western allies

Russia has called for the United Nations Security Council to meet over a strike this week on an Iranian consulate building, saying the council has not met on such a topic since the 1999 NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

On Monday, Iranian officials said Israeli forces struck a residence for the Iranian ambassador and a consular building in Syria. Israel has not commented on whether or not it was responsible.

Dmitry Polyansky, Russia's deputy permanent representative to the U.N., described the strike in Damascus as a "casus belli" an act provoking war. He said that any further escalation falls on United States, Great Britain and France, allies of Israel.

"Western ‘triplet’ have talked about everything, but the airstrike on a diplomatic facility," Polyansky said yesterday. “Bottom line is that we have a targeted air attack by one state on a diplomatic mission of another. "

Cargo ship returns to port with undelivered Gaza aid

Matthew Nighswander

A cargo ship, one of three ships loaded with canned food that was destined for Gaza, after it returned to the port of Larnaca, Cyprus
Petros Karadjias / AP

A cargo ship, one of three ships loaded with canned food that was destined for Gaza, after it returned to the port of Larnaca, Cyprus, today. 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 in an Israeli strike.

It 'doesn’t really matter how' Israel made fatal mistake that killed aid workers, State Department says

Abigail Williams

Though it is important to have a full investigation into the strike that killed seven people working with World Central Kitchen, "it doesn't really matter how they made the mistake," said State Department spokesperson Matt Miller during his briefing today.

"So whatever the reason was that led to this tragedy, whatever the mistake that happened inside the IDF is unacceptable," Miller said. "And they need to do better and they need to put measures in place to ensure that it doesn’t happen again."

The strike reveals "the very difficult situation that aid workers on the ground inside Gaza face" in being able to actually distribute aid, Miller said. Humanitarian assistance for civilians has been a sticking point between the U.S. and Israel, as Israel denies that it's obstructed aid and the U.S. insists that the country needs to do better.

"They need to put in place better deconfliction and better coordination measures to protect humanitarian workers and to protect all the civilians on the ground," Miller said today, adding that this is a topic officials have "consistently said" to the Israeli government over months.

Palestinians seek full U.N. membership again but U.S. likely to block for second time

The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — Supporters of the Palestinians’ request for full membership in the United Nations asked the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday to revive their application for admission submitted in 2011. But the United States is again almost certain to block it.

The supporters’ letter to the council president included the names of 140 countries that have recognized a Palestinian state, including members of the 22-nation Arab Group at the United Nations, the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the 120-member Nonaligned Movement.

The Palestinians are making a fresh bid for U.N. membership as the war between Israel and Hamas that began on Oct. 7 nears its sixth month, and the unresolved decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains in the spotlight after years on the back burner.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered the Palestinian Authority’s application to become the 194th member of the United Nations to then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 23, 2011, before addressing world leaders at the General Assembly.

That bid failed because the Palestinians failed to get the required support of nine of the Security Council’s 15 members. Even if they did, the United States, Israel’s closest ally, had promised to veto any council resolution endorsing Palestinian membership.

The United States has repeatedly said full U.N. membership should follow a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Our position has not changed,” U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood told several reporters Tuesday, reiterating that the issue of full Palestinian membership in the U.N. is one of the final status issues to be decided in bilateral talks between the Palestinians and Israel on a peace agreement.

After the Palestinians’ initial bid for full U.N. membership was rejected, they went to the 193-member General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, and by more than a two-thirds majority succeeded in having their status raised from a U.N. observer to a non-member observer state in November 2012.

Netanyahu's party rejects call for new elections while opposition says government needs to go home

Parliamentary divisions have begun following minister Gantz's call for new elections in September, two years before Netanyahu’s term is over.

The Likud party, which is Netanyahu’s party, released a statement accusing Gantz of engaging in "petty politics" because Gantz's own party has disintegrated.

"Elections now will inevitably lead to paralysis, division, damage to the fighting in Rafah and fatal damage to the chances of a hostage deal," the statement said. "The government will continue until all the goals of the war are achieved."

Yair Lapid, leader of the Knesset's centrist opposition party, appeared to support Gantz's new election call in a post on X. He described the current Israeli leadership as the "worst, most dangerous and failed government in the country's history."

"This government needs to go home as soon as possible so that we can return the kidnapped, return the evacuees to their homes, defeat Hamas and make sure that someone takes care of the Israeli middle class," he wrote.

Qatari prime minister says hostage negotiations 'still stuck'

Hostage negotiations between Israel and Hamas are "still stuck" in the same place they have been for weeks, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said during a press conference with Spain's visiting prime minister.

"We are trying to find the appropriate opportunity to end the war in Gaza and return the prisoners safely home," Al-Thani told reporters today.

Qatar is one of the leading mediators attempting to secure a deal, along with the U.S. and Egypt. But despite months of negotiations, Hamas and Israeli officials have not secured a deal since a temporary truce was put in place in November.

Among the sticking points, according to Al-Thani, is that the return of displaced Gazans to their homes has not yet been approved by Israel.

Hamas has also publicly insisted on a permanent cease-fire, rather than a short-term pause. Israeli officials have also taken issue with the number of Palestinians that Hamas is demanding should be released from Israeli prisons.

Protesters seeking hostages’ release smear paint in Israeli parliament


JERUSALEM — A group of Israelis demanding their government do more to free the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza protested in parliament today, with some smearing paint on the partition between the visitors gallery and the plenum.

“Now! Now!” they chanted at lawmakers below, leaving the glass streaked with yellow — the color of their campaign — as ushers bundled them out.

The protest followed three days of anti-government demonstrations in Jerusalem when thousands took to the streets calling for more action to free the hostages and new elections to replace Netanyahu.

Families and supporters of hostages kidnapped during the deadly October 7 attack on Israel protest inside Israel's parliament in Jerusalem
Protesters smear yellow paint at the Knesset today.Oren Ben Hakoon / Reuters

Of 253 people seized by Hamas during its cross-border rampage Oct. 7 that triggered the Gaza war, 134 remain in captivity and incommunicado in the Palestinian enclave.

Israeli officials have declared at last 35 of them dead in absentia, and relatives and friends fear for the fate of the rest as the conflict drags on.

Qatar and Egypt have been trying to mediate a Gaza cease-fire that might secure the release of at least some of the hostages. But Hamas has demanded that any deal lead to an end to the war, while Israel insists it would resume the offensive to destroy the Palestinian Islamist group.

Shin Bet's head calls Jerusalem's unruly protests part of a 'worrying trend'

Yael Factor

TEL AVIV — Ronen Bar, head of Israel's Shin Bet security agency, expressed concern after last night's anti-government protests in Jerusalem turned into what police called a "riot" outside Netanyahu's home.

"There is a clear line between a legitimate protest and a violent and illegal protest," Bar said. "This is a worrying trend that may lead to dangerous areas that should not be reached.”

It was the fourth straight night of protests in Israel, where demonstrators demanded early elections and directed their anger at Netanyahu. Some tried to push their way through barricades to the prime minister's home.

"The violent discourse on the Internet and some of the scenes we saw tonight in Jerusalem, go beyond the accepted rules of protest, harm the ability to maintain public order, may lead to violent friction with the security forces, hinder them from fulfilling their duties and even harm secure individuals," Bar said.

Marchers rally against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages in Jerusalem, Tuesday, April 2, 2024.
Marchers rally against Netanyahu's government in Jerusalem last night.Ohad Zwigenberg / AP

Benny Gantz, Netanyahu's political rival, calls for new elections this year

Minister Benny Gantz today called for elections to be held in September to "prevent the rift in the nation" after four days of anti-government protests.

"Such an agreed upon election date will leave us time to continue the security effort, and it will also allow the citizens of Israel to know that we will soon renew the trust between us," he said at a news conference.

The former defense minister ran for prime minister against Netanyahu until they joined together in a parliamentary coalition. Gantz said today that he's spoken with other ministers on the matter and informed Netanyahu.

Netanyahu's term is set to go through 2026, but thousands have protested against him in recent weeks and demanded that early elections be held. Last night, a group of anti-government protesters attempted to break through barricades at Netanyahu's home during the fourth night of demonstrations.

No-fly zones are a 'must' for aid workers in war zones, retired general says

NBC News

There are a number of measures that could prevent aid worker deaths without impacting the ability of soldiers to fight in a war zone, retired Lt. Gen. Steph Twitty told MSNBC's "Ana Cabrera Reports." "A couple of things here ... no-fly zone, that is a must when you have humanitarian folks who are operating," Twitty said. "You gotta put a no-fly zone and prevent Israeli zones from flying in that area." 

Twitty also notes that there should be a safe-zone for aid workers and a central command operations to coordinate humanitarian worker movements.

José Andrés, World Central Kitchen founder, said the group had been coordinating with the Israeli military for months and were on a deconflicted route when their truck was hit, killing seven of aid workers.

Polish ties to Israel put to the 'test' after citizen dies in strike on aid workers, prime minister says

The relationship between Poland and Israel is under strain after a Polish citizen, Damian Soból, was killed along with six other aid workers in Gaza.

Polish Prime Minster Donald Tusk addressed his Israeli counterpart directly in a post on X, saying that Poland has supported Israel since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas. His post comes after Yacov Livne, Israel’s ambassador to Poland, accused Polish citizens who accused Israel of "intentional murder" of antisemitism.

"Today you are putting this solidarity to a really hard test," Tusk wrote. "The tragic attack on volunteers and your reaction arouse understandable anger."

The Israeli strike on a marked World Central Kitchen truck killed seven aid workers, six of whom were foreign nationals. Netanyahu said that it was unintentional and that this "happens in war."

Israel has faced calls from the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Australia for a thorough and transparent investigation into the strike. A Polish prosecutor's office has launched its own inquiry into Soból's death.

Bodies of World Central Kitchen workers arrive in Egypt to be returned home

The bodies of six World Central Kitchen workers who were killed in Gaza were taken across the border into Egypt, Dr. Khaled Zayed, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent of North Sinai, confirmed to NBC News.

There are no additional details available on how they will be repatriated to their home countries.

Jagan Chapagain, CEO of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said yesterday that the Palestine Red Crescent Society facilitated getting the workers' bodies to the Rafah crossing.

Image: Remains Of World Central Kitchen Workers Prepared For Return To Home Countries
Medics prepare the bodies of World Central Kitchen workers today in Rafah, Gaza, for the return to their home counties.Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

Israel needs to start the journey to peace today, José Andrés writes

Chef José Andrés urged Israel to change course on how its conducting the war in Gaza in a New York Times column, which also honored the seven aid workers killed in an Israeli airstrike.

"Israel is better than the way this war is being waged," Andrés wrote. "It is better than blocking food and medicine to civilians. It is better than killing aid workers who had coordinated their movements with the Israel Defense Forces."

Andrés rejected the statement from Netanyahu that these type of deaths “happen in war.” He described it as a "direct attack on clearly marked vehicles whose movements were known by the Israel Defense Forces."

He also blamed the strike as a direct result of the policies that "squeezed humanitarian aid to desperate." Andrés pleaded to the best of Israelis to "show up" and remember that food is a universal human right.

"It is not a sign of weakness to feed strangers; it is a sign of strength," Andrés wrote. "The people of Israel need to remember, at this darkest hour, what strength truly looks like."

Situation in Gaza 'beyond catastrophic,' U.N. agency chief says

The situation in Gaza is “beyond catastrophic,” Dominic Allen, head of the United Nations Population Fund, told the Agence France Press news agency yesterday.

Allen, who recently spent a week in the enclave, said that he was “terrified” of what could happen if the war continued.

“I have been to Gaza many times before this war, and what I saw (this time) was truly heartbreaking. Gaza is dust,” he told the French news agency. “Everybody we drove by and many we spoke to were gaunt, starving, hungry and looking frail. Everybody was looking for food.”

Palestinians walk amid the destruction in the vicinity of al-Shifa Hospital, following a two-week military operation by the Israeli army in Gaza City, on April 2, 2024.
Palestinians walk amid the destruction in the vicinity of Al-Shifa Hospital yesterday, following a two-week military operation by the Israeli army, in Gaza City.Omar Ishaq / dpa via AP

Palestinian American doctor walks out of Biden meeting in protest

Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner

WASHINGTON — A Palestinian American doctor walked out of the room during a meeting with Arab Americans at the White House last night. 

Dr. Thaer Ahmad confirmed to NBC News that he told President Joe Biden “it was disappointing I’m the only Palestinian here, and out of respect for my community, I’m going to leave,” and handed him a letter from an 8-year-old orphaned girl in Rafah.

Ahmad is an emergency room doctor who spent at least three weeks in Gaza. The meeting to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan comes amid anger in the community over the Biden administration's approach to the war and the U.S. support for Israel.

Prosecutors in Polish aid worker's home city launch probe into his death in Gaza


Prosecutors in the home city of the Polish aid worker killed in Gaza have launched an investigation into his killing, the state news agency PAP reported today.

“We have started an investigation into the killing of Polish citizen Damian Sobol on April 1-2 in the Gaza Strip as a result of an attack by the Israeli armed forces using explosives,” Beata Starzecka, the deputy district prosecutor in Przemysl, told PAP.

IDF says Hezbollah charge caused U.N. observer car blast

A explosion that injured three United Nations military observers and a Lebanese interpreter on a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon was caused when their vehicle drove over a charge that had been previously placed by Hezbollah militant group, the Israeli military said on X today.

The military observers were part of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, which supports the U.N. peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, known as UNIFIL.

Saturday's blast came as clashes between the Israeli military and Hezbollah militants escalated in recent weeks.

The Israel Defense Forces has previously denied it was behind the attack.

Israeli protesters dress as Hamas militants at UNRWA headquarters

Max Butterworth

Wearing traditional Palestinian kaffiyeh scarves and carrying toy assault rifles, Israeli protesters dressed up as Hamas militants demonstrate outside the entrance of the UNRWA headquarters in Jerusalem today.

Israeli protesters UNRWA headquarters
Ohad Zwigenberg / AP

Pope expresses 'deep regret' over aid workers killed by Israeli strike

Pope Francis has made his latest request for a cease-fire in Gaza, while expressing his “deep regret” over the seven aid workers killed in an Israeli strike.

“I reiterate my firm request for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip,” he said during his weekly general audience at the Vatican, according to the Holy See’s news agency, Vatican News.

Francis said he was praying for the seven World Central Kitchen aid workers killed.

“Let us avoid any irresponsible attempts to escalate the conflict in the region,” he added, before calling for the world to work “tirelessly for an end to this and other wars that continue to bring death and suffering to so many parts of the world.”

USAID chief calls Israel's killing of aid workers 'devastating'

Samantha Power, who leads the U.S. Agency for International Development, has called the deaths of seven aid workers in an Israeli airstrike “devastating and deeply alarming.”

They “were there to do one thing — to help get food to desperate, starving people,” she said in a statement late yesterday. “Their deaths, and the deaths of more than 30,000 Palestinians and 200 humanitarian workers in this conflict, are devastating and deeply alarming.”

She said Israel’s investigation into the killings “must be swift, it must bring accountability, and its findings must be made public.” And that Israel “must do far more to protect aid workers and protect civilians from the unacceptable levels of casualties they continue to experience as a result of IDF military operations.” Power gave her “deepest condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of those killed.”

The U.S., which has been criticized for verbally censuring Israel without leveraging its financial and diplomatic support of the country, “will continue to do all we can to deliver humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” Power added, "but the government of Israel and the IDF must do much more to facilitate this work.”

Police and protesters clash in 'riot' outside Netanyahu's home

Police clashed with anti government protesters outside Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem last night on the third day of demonstrations calling for the release of the hostages held in Gaza and for early elections in Israel.

Netanyahu Protesters Jerusalem
Police push back demonstrators during a protest against Netanyahu's government in Jerusalem last night.Ohad Zwigenberg / AP

Israel Police said in a statement on X that an authorized march started peacefully but then it turned into a “riot” as hundreds of people tried to break through barriers of Netanyahu’s home. 

One protester waved a burning torch at a police trooper and another was lying under a police car, the statement said. 

Five people were arrested for violating public order, it added.

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