Apr 2, 2024 - World

Biden and José Andrés hold call after Israeli strike killed 7 aid workers

Jose

Chef José Andrés. Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

President Biden expressed condolences to chef José Andrés in a call on Tuesday and vowed to urge Israel to protect aid workers after seven staffers from Andrés' World Central Kitchen were killed in Israeli strikes in Gaza, White House press secretary Karine Jean Pierre said.

Why it matters: Monday's deadly strikes have sparked backlash around the world and inside the White House. They also led to the suspension of a maritime aid route into Gaza, which was key to international humanitarian relief efforts.

  • Israeli President Isaac Herzog's office also said he spoke with Andrés on Tuesday to offer "sincere apologies over the tragic loss of life of WCK staff." Herzog promised a "thorough investigation," per the statement.

Driving the news: The WCK workers had been transporting supplies between a landing area on the Gaza coast and a warehouse in central Gaza when they came under fire from the Israel Defense Forces.

  • "Despite coordinating movements with the IDF, 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," World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore said in a statement early Tuesday morning.
  • The organization said it was pausing its operations in the area after the attack.
  • The United Arab Emirates, which is the main funder of the organization's aid route, also announced it would pause its involvement in the maritime aid corridor to Gaza until Israel provides assurances that aid workers will be protected.
  • WCK says the victims were a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, a Palestinian, and citizens of Australia, Poland and the U.K.

What they're saying: White House spokesperson John Kirby said in a briefing with reporters that the Biden Administration is "outraged" by the strikes and is awaiting the findings of a preliminary IDF investigation.

  • Kirby also stressed that the U.S. expects a more thorough investigation with transparent conclusions and accountability. "The IDF must do much more to improve deconfliction and we press Israel to do more to keep aid workers safe," he said.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Israel had carried out the attack and said it had been a tragic accident.
  • The preliminary IDF debrief into the incident found it to be the result of a misidentification, at night, in very complex conditions, IDF Chief of Staff Halevi said.

Andrés called on Israel to "stop this indiscriminate killing" and "stop using food as a weapon."

  • The Spanish chef has close links to members of the Biden administration and has become a highly influential voice on humanitarian issues.

Go deeper: What to know after Israeli strike kills World Central Kitchen workers in Gaza

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