Israel urged to publish full report on aid team deaths

A destroyed vehicle in GazaReuters

An aid organisation has called for an independent investigation into the killing of seven of its workers by Israeli drone strikes in Gaza.

It comes after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said “grave mistakes” led to the fatal targeting of staff from charity World Central Kitchen (WCK).

An Israeli military inquiry led to two senior officers being dismissed.

However, the CEO of the aid group said the Israeli military “cannot credibly investigate its own failure in Gaza”.

In a statement, Erin Gore continued: “[The IDF’s] apologies for the outrageous killing of our colleagues represent cold comfort. It’s cold comfort for the victims’ families and WCK’s global family.”

He said Israel must take “concrete steps” to ensure the safety of aid workers operating on the ground in Gaza, where several organisations have suspended operations in light of the deaths.

In the space of four minutes on 1 April, the seven aid workers were killed when three missiles destroyed their cars one by one as they engaged in humanitarian work.

The charity’s team had been authorised by the Israeli military to help transfer aid supplies from the coast to a warehouse, but a series of mistakes and miscommunications on the part of the IDF resulted in them being mistaken for Hamas operatives and targeted.

The IDF said a “number of armed gunmen” were in the vicinity of the convoy, but drone operators wrongly tracked cars carrying aid workers.

The army apologised after admitting its soldiers did not follow protocols and were not given crucial information about the pre-approved aid mission.

A vehicle World Central Kitchen with a hole in its roof


As well as the dismissal of a colonel and a major, three IDF commanders have been formally reprimanded and the drone unit responsible has been suspended.

Israel is under pressure from key Western partners to publish the full findings of its investigation, which have not been made public.

UK Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron said British officials were “carefully reviewing the initial findings” and called the dismissal of two officers a “first step”.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, he said: “These findings must be published in full and followed up with a wholly independent review to ensure utmost transparency and accountability.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had received the Israeli report and was “reviewing it very carefully”. He said the US will be “looking to see not just what steps are being taken, but the results that follow from them”.

Additional material from the investigation – including video footage purporting to show a Hamas gunman on top of an aid lorry – was shown to journalists in a private briefing ahead of the IDF’s public apology, but only a summary of the findings has been made publicly available.

The Israeli investigation was carried out via a pre-existing disciplinary procedure which deals with allegations of military misconduct, and was overseen by a reservist major general.

IDF spokesman Rear Adm Daniel Hagari described the report as being carried out by a “professional, independent body that is outside of the chain of command”.

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On Friday, he told a press conference the findings would be made public in a “clear and transparent manner” after being presented in full to WCK and representatives of countries whose citizens were killed in the incident.

He said IDF soldiers were “certain they were targeting Hamas” but described the strikes as a “tragedy” stemming from a “terrible chain of errors”.

Also on Friday, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said 196 aid workers had died in Gaza since the conflict began, adding “we want to know why each of them was killed”.

He told a press conference: “The Israeli government has acknowledged mistakes – but the essential problem is not who made the mistakes, it is the military strategy and procedures in place that allow for those mistakes to multiply time and time again.

“Fixing those failures requires independent investigations and meaningful and measurable changes on the ground.”

The deaths have contributed to growing international pressure over how Israel is conducting the war, which has led to calls for countries to stop supplying Israel with weapons in recent days.

On Thursday, US President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington’s ongoing support was contingent on more aid being allowed into Gaza and additional measures being introduced to protect aid workers.

Israel later said it had approved the opening of two routes into Gaza for humanitarian deliveries. It is not clear when these would be opened or under what conditions.

The Erez Gate in northern Gaza will be reopened for the first time since the start of the war, and the Israeli container port of Ashdod – which is close to Gaza – will accept humanitarian supplies. More aid from Jordan will also be allowed to enter via the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

Much of the Gaza Strip has been devastated during the Israeli military operations that began after Hamas gunmen attacked southern Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages.

More than 33,091 people have been killed in Gaza since then, the Hamas-run health ministry says.

UN OCHA map showing access constraints in Gaza (27 March 2024)

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