update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

White House ‘outraged’ by Israeli strike on World Central Kitchen convoy

A Biden administration spokesman told reporters that Israel had completed a preliminary investigation, with a full probe likely ready within days.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks to reporters at the White House, Oct. 3, 2023. Photo by Oliver Contreras/White House.
U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks to reporters at the White House, Oct. 3, 2023. Photo by Oliver Contreras/White House.

John Kirby, the White House national security communications advisor, told reporters on Tuesday that the Biden administration is “outraged” over an Israeli drone strike in Gaza that killed seven aid workers, including an American.

“We were outraged to learn of an IDF strike that killed a number of civilian humanitarian workers yesterday from the World Central Kitchen, which has been relentless in working to get food to those who are hungry in Gaza and, quite frankly, around the world,” Kirby said. “We send our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones.”

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said at the same press briefing that U.S. President Joe Biden called José Andrés, founder of World Central Kitchen, to say that he is “heartbroken” by the news.

Biden told Andrés that he would “make clear to Israel that humanitarian aid workers must be protected,” Jean-Pierre added.

The Israel Defense Forces took responsibility for the Monday night airstrike. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “tragic case of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people in the Gaza Strip.”

Kirby said at the briefing on Tuesday that Israel has completed a preliminary investigation into the airstrike and that Washington expects that a full investigation is likely to be completed within a matter of days.

“Our expectation is—and we’ve made this clear to them—that they’ll come clean about what they’ve learned, they’ll be fully transparent and if people need to be held accountable, that they’ll be held accountable,” he said.

More than 200 aid workers have been killed in the conflict since Oct. 7, making it one of the worst for that sector in recent history, Kirby said.

Asked how it was possible that a strike on such a convoy could be anything but a violation of international humanitarian law, Kirby challenged the premise of the question. Washington has no indication that Israel violated international humanitarian law in any instance in the past six months, Kirby said.

“Your question presumes, at this very early hour, that it was a deliberate strike, that they knew exactly what they were hitting, that they were hitting aid workers and did it on purpose,” Kirby told the reporter. “There’s no evidence of that.”

“I will also remind you, sir, that we continue to look at incidents as they occur. The State Department has a process in place, and to date, as you and I are speaking today, they have not found any incidents where the Israelis have violated international humanitarian law,” Kirby added.

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