Sunday, May 19, 2024

Netanyahu told Biden deaths of aid workers in Gaza were Israel’s fault

In his phone call with US President Joe Biden, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that the Israel forces were to blame for the deaths of the seven World Central Kitchen aid workers this week – and assured Biden that his government planned to announce measures to prevent such a mistake from happening again, according to a senior US administration official.

Netanyahu told Biden on Thursday that Israel was set on improving the tracking of non-profit workers inside Gaza and the US president affirmed that such steps were necessary, according to the official.

The White House has previously announced that the two leaders did not go into details of the investigation into the incident that killed the workers, including a dual American-Canadian citizen, which has drawn wide condemnation and angered the White House.

In the half-hour call with Netanyahu, Biden did not lay out the specifics of how he would consider shifting US policy if Israel doesn’t make changes in its handling of the war in Gaza, according to the top official.

He instead spoke in the same broad strokes reflected in the White House readout of the call that concrete changes needed to be made, according to the official.

Biden told Netanyahu that an “immediate ceasefire is essential” to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza, according to a readout by the White House.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also said if the United States does not see changes in Israel’s policies to protect civilians in Gaza, “there’ll be changes in our own policy”.

The statement, made after a call between Biden and Netanyahu, is the clearest statement yet of the administration’s waning patience with the Israeli government amid the massive humanitarian toll.

“This week’s horrific attack on the World Central Kitchen was not the first such incident. It must be the last,” Blinken stated at a news conference in Brussels.

The secretary of state added he was “outraged” by the deaths of the seven WCK staffers.

“I strongly condemn it.”

He also described the repeated push on the Israeli government to do more to mitigate civilian harm.

“The results on the ground are woefully insufficient and unacceptable,” the diplomat continued.

John Kirby, White House national security communications adviser, also said Washington will wait and see what Israel does in the coming hours and days and US policy is hung on the protection of aid workers.

“What we need to see is more aid getting in, we need to see more effort applied to keeping humanitarian aid workers safe, and any change to our policy will be sort of hung on our assessment of the degree to which Israel complies with all of that,” Kirby told Fox News.

Seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen (WCK) were killed Monday, drawing sharp criticism of Israel’s continued bombardment in Gaza. Biden released a statement Tuesday saying he was “outraged” at the news of the workers’ deaths. Netanyahu claimed responsibility for the “unintended” airstrikes and stated it was a “tragic event”, but also said that things like this happen in war.

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