Updated Apr 2, 2024 - World

Biden: Israel "has not done enough to protect aid workers" in Gaza

President Joe Biden speaks alongside Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office of the White House on March 15, 2024 in Washington, DC.

President Biden at the White House last month. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Biden said Tuesday that Israel's government "has not done enough to protect aid workers" in Gaza during its war with Hamas.

The big picture: Biden issued one of his strongest statements on Israel yet following a call with José Andrés in which he offered his condolences for seven staffers from the chef's World Central Kitchen NGO who were killed in Israeli strikes in Gaza.

  • Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) chief of staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said in a video address following a preliminary debriefing Tuesday that the strike "was not carried out with the intention of harming" the aid workers.
  • "It was a mistake that followed a misidentification at night during a war in very complex conditions," he added. "It shouldn't have happened."

What he's saying: Biden said in a statement that he's "outraged and heartbroken" by the deaths of the humanitarian workers, including one American.

  • The investigation that Israel's government has pledged "must be swift," bring accountability and its findings must be made public, Biden said.
  • "Even more tragically, this is not a stand-alone incident. This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed," he added.
  • "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. Incidents like yesterday's simply should not happen. Israel has also not done enough to protect civilians."
  • Biden said the U.S. had "repeatedly urged Israel to deconflict their military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations, in order to avoid civilian casualties."

Zoom out: Israeli officials have pledged a full and thorough investigation into what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called "a tragic incident of an unintentional targeting of innocent civilians in Gaza that we regret."

  • Israeli President Isaac Herzog offered "sincere apologies over the tragic loss of life of WCK staff" during a conversation with Andrés on Tuesday, his office said.

Go deeper: Israel faces outrage from Democrats over strike that killed aid workers

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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