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Israel-Hamas war: Biden tells Netanyahu U.S. policy going forward will hinge on Israel addressing civilian harm, humanitarian suffering

President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, their first direct communication since the killing of the seven aid workers in Gaza.

What we know

  • World Central Kitchen has called for an independent investigation into the Israeli military strikes that killed seven of its aid workers in the Gaza Strip. The disaster relief charity's founder, José Andrés, said his team members were targeted "systematically, car by car." Israeli officials have opened an investigation, saying that a misidentification led to the strikes.
  • President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, their first direct communication since the incident. Biden urged Netanyahu to empower his negotiation team to make a deal on hostage releases as an "immediate ceasefire is essential" to protecting civilian life and said Israel must implement steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering and the safety of aid workers.
  • Israel has committed to opening the Ashdod port and the Erez crossing for aid into Gaza, a U.S. National Security Council spokesperson said.
  • The Israeli military has halted leave for all combat units and drafted reservists to boost aerial defenses amid fears of an escalation with Iran. The moves come as Iran's supreme leader vowed revenge and said that Israel "will be slapped" for a strike on Tehran's consulate building in Syria that killed senior military commanders.
  • The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 33,000, according to the enclave's Health Ministry. Another 75,600 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. Please click here for the latest updates.

Class destroyed: The rise and ruin of Gaza’s revered universities

Gaza’s universities are revered, embodying Palestinians’ dreams and ambitions, their values and traditions.

They have also represented a way for Palestinians to exercise some control over lives stifled by conflict, a 17-year blockade, political stagnation and misrule, and an economy on its knees.

“We don’t have oil, we don’t have petroleum, we don’t have gold. The only capital we have is a human capital,” Akram Habeeb, an English literature professor said. “So we believe in education."

Built over decades, Gaza’s universities embodied the ambitions of young Palestinians. In weeks, the Israeli military destroyed them.

Read the full story here:

NBC News

Palestinians in northern Gaza living on 245 calories a day, Oxfam says

Palestinians in the northern area of Gaza, which experts said last month is under imminent threat of famine, are surviving on less than 12% of the recommended daily 2,100 calorie intake need, according to aid organization Oxfam.

"People in northern Gaza have been forced to survive on an average of 245 calories a day - less than a can of beans - since January, as Israeli forces continue their military onslaught," Oxfam said in a release today.

An Oxfam analysis found that less than half the number of food trucks needed for everyone in Gaza to meet the daily calorie recommendation were entering the enclave. At least 221 trucks of food are the minimum daily requirement, the organization said.

"Israel is making deliberate choices to starve civilians," said Amitabh Behar, Oxfam international executive director. "Imagine what it is like, not only to be trying to survive on 245 calories day in, day out, but also having to watch your children or elderly relatives do the same."

Israel has repeatedly denied allegations that it is starving civilians and has also criticized the recent analysis on imminent famine from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification initiative, which assesses hunger across the world.

The department in charge of humanitarian aid said that 240 trucks of aid entered into Gaza today. The average reported for the month of March was 140 per day.

Israel commits to open new route to Gaza, increase deliveries, U.S. says

Israel has committed to opening the Ashdod port and the Erez crossing for aid into Gaza, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in welcoming the news.

The steps, including increasing aid from Jordan to the enclave, “must now be fully and rapidly implemented,” Watson said in a statement.

The announcement comes hours after Biden spoke with Netanyahu.

Biden emphasized that strikes on humanitarian workers and the overall humanitarian situation there are unacceptable, according to the White House.

“As the President said today on the call, U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these and other steps, including steps to protect innocent civilians and the safety of aid workers,” Watson said.

'I still wake up terrified': Patients inside Al-Shifa Hospital recount siege

The World Health Organization spoke to patients who were in Al-Shifa Hospital during the Israeli military's two-week raid and shared the distressing conditions they experienced while trapped inside.

“My psyche has been shattered from within,” said patient Mohammad Ashour.

One patient, Hamza Marzouq, said families took patients out of rooms that were filled with urine, feces and flies. Two or three people died every day in that room, he said.

Another patient told the WHO that he was shocked to be alive and said, "I still wake up terrified."

A young boy named Mahmoud Mashharahi said soldiers forced his mother to leave the facility and he was terrified on his own.

"I was scared being alone, wishing my mother was with me," Mahmoud said. "I didn't want anything except for her.

NBC News

Amnesty International demands U.S. suspend weapon sales and transfers to Israel

Amnesty International said today that President Joe Biden and Congress should halt all weapons sales and transfers to Israel as there is "overwhelming evidence that war crimes are being committed by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians."

Paul O’Brien, executive director of Amnesty International USA, urged Biden to end U.S. "complicity" by suspending arms deals with Israel. He described the administration's continued support to Israel as "unconscionable."

"The written assurances recently submitted by the Israeli government stating that they aren’t violating international humanitarian law with U.S. weapons are simply not credible, and it’s shocking that the U.S. government is going along with their statement while our research and international law experts disagree," O’Brien said.

"When will President Biden realize he is complicit in the Israeli government’s crimes against humanity? Enough is enough," O'Brien said.

U.K. judges, intelligence experts call for halt to Israeli arms sales

Reuters

LONDON — Three former Supreme Court justices have joined more than 600 members of the British legal profession in calling for the government to halt arms sales to Israel, saying it could make Britain complicit in genocide in Gaza.

Their call was also backed by two of the country’s leading intelligence experts, who argued that Britain needed to use any leverage it could to persuade Israel, and its biggest backer the United States, to change course in the conflict.

“The provision of military assistance and material to Israel may render the UK complicit in genocide as well as serious breaches of International Humanitarian Law,” the judges, barristers and legal academics said in a 17-page letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The British government has been a staunch ally of Israel since the eruption of hostilities on Oct. 7 but Foreign Secretary David Cameron has hardened his language in recent months over the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Cameron said on March 8 that Israel had to be compliant with international humanitarian law in order for Britain to grant export licenses allowing arms sales to Israel, and that a judgement on that was underway and due in the "coming days."

Sunak has resisted calls to immediately halt weapons sales to Israel, saying the government adheres to a "very careful licensing regime." Two senior figures in Britain’s intelligence community — former national security adviser Peter Ricketts and Alex Younger, the former head of the MI6 foreign spy service — have said those sales should be used as leverage.

Ricketts said there was “now abundant evidence” that Israel was not compliant with international humanitarian law and that a ban would send a message that could stir debate in Washington.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called any suggestion of genocide "outrageous," and has said Israel has an "unwavering commitment to international law."

World Central Kitchen aid worker’s family calls for an independent probe into the deadly attack

Raf Sanchez

TEL AVIV — The parents of a U.S.-Canadian aid worker killed in Israeli strikes on a World Central Kitchen convoy say they do not have confidence in Israel’s military to fairly investigate and are calling for an independent probe into the attack that claimed the life of their only son.

Jacob Flickinger, 33, was among seven humanitarians with the U.S. charity who were killed in the series of Israeli strikes in central Gaza on Monday night. Their deaths triggered a wave of global criticism and brought new scrutiny on the accuracy of Israel’s strikes in Gaza. 

Flickinger’s father, John Flickinger, told NBC News that he does not have confidence in the Israeli military’s investigation and emphasized the need for an independent investigation.

“An independent investigation is needed because aid workers continue to be killed by the IDF,” he said. “They kept firing until every worker was dead. So I think the Israeli government, you know, owes the families at least an apology, but I would say much more.”

Read the full story here.

Human Rights Watch accuses Israel of 'apparent war crime' in strike on residential building in Gaza

Human Rights Watch released a report today accusing the Israeli military of an "apparent war crime" in striking a residential building with seemingly no military target.

The strike in question was on a residential building south of Nusreit refugee camp on Oct. 31 and killed at least 106 civilians, more than half of which were children. Human Rights Watch said they found no evidence of a military target at the building in research conducted through witness interviews, analysis of satellite images, videos and photographs.

"Everyone Human Rights Watch interviewed who knew the building well said they were not aware of Palestinian fighters or military equipment in or near the building at the time of the attack," the report said.

Researchers are not allowed into Gaza to visit the site, Human Rights Watch said.

The organization said it sent a letter with questions about the strike in March, but Israeli authorities did not respond. The military has given the organization "no information that would demonstrate the existence of a military target" within or in the vicinity of the building.

NBC News has reached out to the IDF for comment using coordinates from the Human Rights Watch letter but has not independently verified the Human Rights Watch report.

Biden suggests U.S. could condition military aid to Israel on its actions to address humanitarian crisis in Gaza

+4

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

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Allie Raffa

President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that Israel's strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers earlier this week and the overall humanitarian situation were “unacceptable” and issued a warning about the U.S. changing its policy toward Israel.

Biden “made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers,” the White House said in a readout of the call.

Notably, Biden also “made clear that U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps.”

According to two U.S. officials, Biden strongly implied to Netanyahu that he could condition U.S. military aid to Israel on what it does to address humanitarian concerns in Gaza and get to a cease-fire as soon as possible.

Read the full story here.

Gaza infrastructure damages estimated at $18.5B in U.N.-World Bank report

Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Gaza Strip suffered about $18.5 billion in damages to critical infrastructure in the first four months of the Israeli bombardment launched in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, according to a joint World Bank and the United Nations report released on Tuesday.

The interim damage assessment report, which received financial support from the European Union, estimates the damages are equivalent to 97% of the combined GDP of the West Bank and Gaza in 2022 and left 26 million tons of debris and rubble that would take years to remove.

World Central Kitchen workers not first to be killed in Gaza: 'It shouldn't matter what passport you carry'

Conditions have been deadly for aid workers in Gaza long before the seven workers with World Central Kitchen were killed in a strike this week, staff members at Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders, said at a news conference this morning.

Dr. Amber Alayyan, deputy program manager for the Middle East, pointed out that almost 200 aid workers have been killed working in Gaza in response to a question about whether conditions would change following the World Central Kitchen strike.

"I would ask the question, is there a difference when foreign nationals are killed versus Palestinians who are killed?" Alayyan said. "Because to me, there shouldn't be. A humanitarian worker's a humanitarian worker. A doctor is a doctor and a nurse is a nurse. And it shouldn't matter what passport you carry."

The organization's representatives emphasized that they have been coordinating all of their movements with the Israeli military since November, but Alayyan said that “the concept of deconfliction at this point has become almost a joke.”

Five aid workers with MSF have been killed in Gaza over the last six months, as well as two family members who were with staff when their shelter was hit by an Israeli strike in February. Christopher Lockyear, MSF's secretary-general, said he was personally promised an investigation into a strike on a convoy in November but has not heard from Israel's department in charge of humanitarian aid.

"We have been expressing our concerns around coordination for several months, and that what really needs to change is the way this conflict is being conducted," Lockyear said. "And that we have, ultimately, a cease-fire — which is needed immediately and it needs to be sustained."

NBC News

New York's archbishop to visit 'Israel and Palestine,' diocese says

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, will visit "Israel and Palestine" next week as part of his role as chair of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, his office said today.

"While there, the cardinal will meet with local Christian, Jewish, and Islamic religious leaders, visit various social service and humanitarian activities, as well as mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine," the statement said.

Dolan will meet with local representatives from Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities as well as social services groups. His office said he hopes to meet with the families of hostages, human rights groups, and share a Sabbath meal.

"A more complete itinerary will be shared when finalized," his office said.

Biden told Netanyahu U.S. policy going forward will hinge on assessment of Israel's changes to humanitarian situation

President Joe Biden said Israel's treatment of the humanitarian situation in Gaza is "unacceptable" in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a White House readout of the call.

Israel must implement steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering and the safety of aid workers, Biden told Netanyahu.

"He made clear that U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps," the readout said.

Biden also urged Netanyahu to empower his negotiation team to make a deal on hostage releases as an "immediate ceasefire is essential" to protecting civilian life.

Acute malnutrition cases worsening for children in Gaza, UNICEF says

Malnutrition cases among children in Gaza are worsening despite efforts to increase aid into northern Gaza, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban told the United Nations Security Council.

"In March, we reported that 1 in 3 children under 2 years of age - in the Northern Gaza Strip suffer from acute malnutrition, a figure that has more than doubled in the last two months," Chaiban said. "Dozens of children in the Northern Gaza Strip have reportedly died from malnutrition and dehydration in recent weeks and half the population is facing catastrophic food insecurity."

Last month, a United Nations-led analysis of food insecurity warned that northern Gaza could fall into famine at any moment. Numerous countries have attempted to push more aid into the region, but an attack on one of Gaza's largest providers of meals this week has further threatened conditions.

Dr. Amber Alayyan, Médecins Sans Frontières deputy program manager for the Middle East, said in a news conference today that drops of aid alone will not help the actual disease that is malnutrition.

"If we were talking six months ago, yes, food might have been great ... sure we still need that," Alayyan said. "But we're talking about malnutrition, which is a medical problem which requires medical treatment and to treat it you have to have access to the population and that is not possible in Gaza."

Al-Shifa Hospital, once a cornerstone of medical care in Gaza City, was destroyed after a two-week Israeli military operation at the complex. International health officials have expressed increasing concern over the state of medical care in northern Gaza as medical facilities continue to be under siege.

Palestinians want April vote on U.N. membership despite U.S. saying peace with Israel must come first

The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — The Palestinians want the Security Council to vote later this month on their revived request for full membership in the United Nations, despite the United States reiterating Wednesday that Israel and the Palestinians must first negotiate a peace agreement.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, said 140 countries recognize the state of Palestine, and “we believe it is high time now for our state to become a full member at the United Nations.”

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

Mansour asked the Security Council on Tuesday to consider during April the Palestinians’ renewed application for membership, which was supported by the 22-nation Arab Group at the United Nations, the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the 120-member Nonaligned Movement.

He told several journalists Wednesday that he expects the council’s Standing Committee on New Members, which includes all 15 council nations, to meet behind closed doors to consider the application before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on April 9.

Mansour said he then expects the Security Council to vote on the Palestinian request for full U.N. membership at its monthly meeting on the Middle East, being held at ministerial level April 18.

Seven of the council’s 15 members recognize the state of Palestine — China, Russia, Ecuador, Mozambique, Algeria, Guyana and Sierra Leone.

U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller was asked Wednesday whether the United States would veto full membership for Palestinians. “I am not going to speculate about what may happen down the road,” he replied.

Trump's hostage comment 'excruciatingly painful,' family member of Israeli hostage says

WASHINGTON — An Israeli-American hostage family member sharply criticized former President Donald Trump for repeatedly referring to people who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as “hostages.”

"It’s excruciatingly painful," the family member told NBC News. "It’s not the same as being kidnapped, dragged across the border and taken into a tunnel beneath Gaza, where you’re held for months in the dark. That’s a hostage."

The family member added that it isn't just inaccurate, "it’s cruel."

Trump has repeatedly referred to the pretrial detainees who are charged in connection with the riot at the Capitol as "hostages." An NBC News analysis has found that just 15 people charged in connection with the Capitol attack are currently being held pretrial at the order of federal judges.

Israel must apologize and pay compensation to family of killed Polish aid worker, Poland's leaders say

Max Burman

The Associated Press

Max Burman and The Associated Press

Israel must apologize and pay compensation to the family of the Polish aid worker who was killed in the strikes on the Gaza aid convoy this week, Poland's leaders have said.

Damian Soból was killed along with six other workers of the World Central Kitchen charity, an incident that has drawn international outrage.

This morning, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Donald Tusk demanded a fuller explanation of what happened and said it was a matter of decency to pay compensation to the family of Soból, 35.

“I have no doubt at all that Israel should pay compensation to the family of our killed citizen. It should be an appropriate compensation,” Duda said. “I hope such a compensation will be paid in a just and honest way.”

Tusk said it was a “senseless and unnecessary death” and that Israel should apologize and provide detailed information about the circumstances of the deaths.

The seven World Central Kitchen aid workers killed in an Israeli airstrike, clockwise from top left, Palestinian Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha,  John Chapman of Britain, Jacob Flickinger of the U.S. and Canada, Damian Soból of Poland,  James Henderson of Britain, James Kirby of Britain and  Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom of Australia.
The seven World Central Kitchen aid workers killed in an Israeli airstrike, clockwise from top left: Palestinian Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, John Chapman of Britain, Jacob Flickinger of the U.S. and Canada, Damian Soból of Poland, James Henderson of Britain, James Kirby of Britain, and Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom of Australia.World Central Kitchen

Aid convoy strike reinforces fears over Rafah invasion, Sec. Austin told Israeli defense minister

Mosheh Gains

Yael Factor

Mosheh Gains and Yael Factor

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed outrage over the World Central Kitchen strike in a call with his Israeli counterpart today and reiterated his concerns over a pending ground invasion of Rafah.

According to a readout from his office, Austin told Defense Minister Yoav Gallant that Israel must do more to protect aid workers in Gaza after "repeated coordination failures with foreign aid groups."

"Secretary Austin stated that this tragedy reinforced the expressed concern over a potential Israeli military operation in Rafah, specifically focusing on the need to ensure the evacuation of Palestinian civilians and the flow of humanitarian aid," his office said.

Gallant's office also provided a summary of the call, noting that Gallant expressed his sorrow over the attack and assured Austin that a thorough investigation was being conducted. He also mentioned a "series of measures" being assessed to increase aid distribution in Gaza.

Palestinian girls next to a makeshift tent camp for displaced people in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 4, 2024.
Palestinian girls next to a makeshift tent camp today for displaced people in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.Mohammed Abed / AFP - Getty Images

Probe into World Central Kitchen convoy strike could take weeks, Israeli official indicates

Israel is conducting a "thorough and transparent examination" into the strikes that killed a group of World Central Kitchen aid workers this week, a spokesperson from the minister's office said.

"In the coming weeks as the findings become clear we will be transparent and share the results with the public," Raquela Karamson said during a briefing today, implying the investigation may take time.

A preliminary inquiry found that the Israeli military struck the convoy due to a "misidentification" at night. World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés pushed back against the Israeli explanation yesterday, noting that their convoys were clearly marked and their movements were in coordination with the military.

The prime ministers of Spain and Australia have also said in the last day that the current explanation is not good enough.

World-Central-Kitchen-WCK-Aid-workers
A destroyed vehicle in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, where employees from World Central Kitchen were killed in an Israeli airstrike.Yasser Qudihe / Middle East Images / AFP via Getty

Biden-Netanyahu call comes after president's anger over aid convoy strike

WASHINGTON — Today's call between Biden and Netanyahu was scheduled after the Israeli strikes that killed seven aid workers in Gaza, a U.S. official told NBC News. It will be the first time the two leaders have spoken since the incident.

Biden is “very angry” about the strike, the official said. A separate U.S. official says the president intends to convey that anger to Netanyahu during their call today.

The first official says the president’s anger is “indicative of the broader problem of how the Israelis are conducting their operations” for, as this official notes “either not passing on to their military the deconfliction details from World Central Kitchen (regarding its aid workers) or they’re being received and ignored.”

Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to join today’s call as well — likely from the road as she is traveling to North Carolina today.

Israeli authorities say they thwarted attacks, including plan to assassinate right-wing minister

Yael Factor

TEL AVIV — Israeli authorities said this morning they had thwarted planned terror attacks on a number of targets, including a plan to assassinate a prominent right-wing minister.

"In recent months, the Shin Bet, the IDF, and the Israel Police have arrested a large number of suspects from Israel and the West Bank, including seven residents of the Negev and central Israel," the internal security agency Shin Bet said.

"Among other things, they intended to carry out an attack against IDF bases and secured facilities, including Ben Gurion Airport and the Government Center in Jerusalem," the statement said. "There was even an intention to assassinate the Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir, by obtaining an RPG missile in order to carry out the attack. There were also plans to kidnap IDF soldiers."

The plan was in its early stages and 10 suspects have now had indictments filed against them in court, the statement said.

Ben-Gvir thanked “all the security forces and everyone who participated in the arrest, investigation and prosecution of those who planned to assassinate me with an RPG,” a spokesperson said.

U.S. shoots down anti-ship missile and drones launched by Houthis

Max Burman

The U.S. military has said that its forces shot down two drones and an anti-ship ballistic missile that were launched by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The USS Gravely destroyer, which is patrolling the Red Sea, was the target of the attack, U.S. Central Command said this morning.

It is the latest attempted attack by the Houthis targeting international shipping and American forces in the area, and comes amid fears of escalation across the region after Iran blamed Israel for a strike on its consulate in Syria that killed a number of high-ranking commanders.

José Andrés demands answers for WCK tragedy in emotional post

Raf Sanchez

TEL AVIV – Biden is set to hold a critical phone call with Israel’s prime minister after the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza killed seven aid workers. Chef José Andrés, founder of World Central Kitchen, is accusing Israel of systematically targeting the group. 

Jewish group launches Holocaust survivor speakers bureau to fight increasing antisemitism worldwide

The Associated Press

More than 250 Holocaust survivors have joined an international initiative to share their stories of loss and survival with students around the world during a a time of rising antisemitism following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that triggered the war in the Gaza Strip.

The Survivor Speakers Bureau was launched today by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also referred to as the Claims Conference. The speakers bureau connects Holocaust survivors with students both virtually and in person.

“A Holocaust survivor speakers bureau of this scale and reach is unprecedented,” said Gideon Taylor, president of the Claims Conference. “At a moment of dramatically rising antisemitism, this program tells the history and educates for the future.”

Six million European Jews and people from other minorities were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust.

Gaza death toll tops 33,000, Health Ministry says

Max Burman

The death toll in the Gaza Strip since the Israel-Hamas war began has now passed 33,000, the enclave's Health Ministry said this morning.

Palestinian father Ashraf cries as he holds the body of one of his two daughters after they were both killed in an overnight strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on April 4, 2024.
Palestinian father Ashraf cries as he holds the body of one of his two daughters today after they were both killed in an overnight strike in Rafah, southern Gaza.Mohammed Abed / AFP - Getty Images

Some 75,668 people in Gaza have been injured, it said.

Israel's explanation for aid worker deaths ‘not good enough,’ Australia says

Israel’s explanation for the deaths of seven aid workers in Gaza, including one Australian, is “not good enough,” the Australian prime minister has said.

The U.S., Australia and others have condemned Israel over the strikes, which killed Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom and six other people working for the U.S.-based charity World Central Kitchen as they were traveling in a convoy after delivering food aid.

“We need to have accountability for how it has occurred, and what is not good enough is the statements that have been made, including that this is ‘just a product of war,’” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters in Sydney today.

Albanese has demanded “full accountability” from Israel, including in a call with Netanyahu yesterday.

Israeli military halts leave for all combat units amid Iranian threats

Max Burman

The Israeli military has this morning canceled leave for all combat units, a move that comes amid fears of an escalation with Iran after this week's attack on Tehran's consulate in Syria killed a number of senior military commanders.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that: "In accordance with the situational assessment, it has been decided that leave will be temporarily paused for all IDF combat units. The IDF is at war and the deployment of forces is under continuous assessment according to requirements."

The IDF said yesterday that it had drafted reservists to boost the country's aerial defenses, and Israeli media has reported that GPS services have been disrupted in Tel Aviv, an apparent effort to ward off possible guided missile attacks.

Palestinians look at the damage to WCK vehicles in Gaza

Max Butterworth

A Palestinian boy peers through the wreckage of a vehicle belonging to the World Central Kitchen convoy after it was struck in Deir el-Balah.

Israel on Tuesday assumed responsibility for the killing of seven workers of international food charity World Central Kitchen WCK during an overnight airstrike in the Gaza Strip and expressed "sincere sorrow.
Yasser Qudih / Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

World Central Kitchen calls for independent probe into aid convoy strikes

The World Central Kitchen aid group called today for the governments of Australia, Canada, the United States, Poland, and Britain to launch an independent investigation into the Israeli strikes that killed seven of its workers in Gaza.

The probe should examine "whether they were carried out intentionally or otherwise violated international law," the relief organization said in a statement.

“The aid workers killed were nationals of Australia, U.S./Canada dual citizen, Gaza, Poland, and the United Kingdom,” the statement said. It added that the group had "asked the Israeli government to immediately preserve all documents, communications, video and/or audio recordings, and any other materials potentially relevant to the April 1 strikes."

“An independent investigation is the only way to determine the truth of what happened, ensure transparency and accountability for those responsible, and prevent future attacks on humanitarian aid workers,” World Central Kitchen said.

Israeli officials have said they are investigating the strikes, saying that a misidentification was to blame.

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

José Andrés has 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 a 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.

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

WASHINGTON — Biden and Netanyahu are expected to speak by phone today, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the call.

It will be their first direct communication since the 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.

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

Read the full story here.

Catch up with our latest coverage of the war

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