Biden ‘outraged’ by Israeli airstrike that killed World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza

President Biden said he was “outraged and heartbroken” by the deaths of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers after Israeli airstrikes against their unarmed, marked aid convoy in the Gaza Strip.

In a Tuesday evening statement containing what might be the strongest criticism of Israel expressed over his half-century in public life, Mr Biden said incidents like the strike on the convoy by Israeli Defence Forces “should not happen” and said Israel “has not done enough” to protect civilians or aid workers during the six-month-old war against Hamas.

“This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed. This is a major reason why distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza has been so difficult – because Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians,” he said.

“Israel has pledged to conduct a thorough investigation into why the aid workers’ vehicles were hit by airstrikes. That investigation must be swift, it must bring accountability, and its findings must be made public,” he added.

Mr Biden also noted that the US has “repeatedly urged Israel to deconflict their military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations, in order to avoid civilian casualties” and said the US would “continue to do all we can to deliver humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza, through all available means”.

He promised to “continue to press Israel to do more to facilitate that aid. And we are pushing hard for an immediate ceasefire as part of a hostage deal” and said there is a US team in Cairo for negotiations “now”.

“May God bless the humanitarian workers killed yesterday and comfort their families and loved ones in their grief,” he said.

The American president is the latest in a series of world leaders to condemn the attack on the defenceless aid workers, which took place as they were finishing a delivery of food that had been transported to Gaza by sea.

The nongovernmental organisation, which was founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres, said the following individuals died when the IDF struck their three-car convoy: Saifeddin Issam Ayab Abutaha, 25, of Palestine; Lalzawmi Frankcom, 43, of Australia; Damian Soból, 35, of Poland; Jacob Flickinger, 33, a US-Canadian dual citizen; along with UK citizens John Chapman, 57, James Henderson, 33, and James Kirby, 47.

“These 7 beautiful souls were killed by the IDF in a strike as they were returning from a full day’s mission,” WCK CEO Erin Gore said Tuesday in a statement. “Their smiles, laughter, and voices are forever embedded in our memories. And we have countless memories of them giving their best selves to the world. We are reeling from our loss. The world’s loss.”

On Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the airstrike and demanded a “thorough and transparent investigation” from Israel.

Mr Sunak also telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say that “far too many aid workers and ordinary civilians have lost their lives in Gaza” and that the situation there is “increasingly intolerable”.

For his part, Mr Netanyahu described the attack as a “tragic incident of an unintended strike of our forces on innocent people in the Gaza Strip” and promised that the country’s armed forces “will do everything for this not to happen again”.