The US, France and Britain led international criticism Tuesday of a deadly strike in the Gaza Strip that killed seven charity staff as they unloaded desperately needed aid brought by sea to the war-torn territory.

World Central Kitchen (WCK) — one of two NGOs spearheading efforts to deliver aid by boat — said a "targeted Israeli strike" on Monday killed Australian, British, Palestinian, Polish and US-Canadian staff.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged a "swift, impartial investigation" into the airstrike and said Israel needed to do more to protect innocent civilians. The Israeli military expressed "sincere sorrow" over the incident, which drew widespread condemnation and ratcheted up pressure for steps to ease the disastrous humanitarian situation in Gaza after nearly six months of war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Israeli airstrike was unintended and "tragic", and the military pledged an independent inquiry. "We will do everything to prevent a recurrence," he said.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog apologised for the air strike that killed the aid workers.

Herzog said he spoke to Jose Andres, the US-based celebrity chef who heads the aid group World Central Kitchen, to express his "deep sorrow and sincere apologies over the tragic loss of life".

WCK said they had been travelling in two armoured cars emblazoned with the charity's logo and another vehicle.
Britain summoned Israel's ambassador in London to express its "unequivocal condemnation of the appalling killing" of the WCK workers, three of whom were British nationals.

"Israel must urgently explain how this happened and make major changes to ensure safety of aid workers on the ground," British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said in a post on X.

Israel must clarify the circumstances surrounding the deaths of seven people working for World Central Kitchen, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.

"I hope and demand that the Israeli government clarifies as soon as possible the circumstances of this brutal attack that has taken the lives of seven aid workers who were doing nothing more than helping," Sanchez said after visiting the Jabal el-Hussein camp for Palestinian refugees in Amman.

Israel has long denied accusations that it is hindering the distribution of urgently needed food aid in Gaza, which it has besieged in a war since October, saying the problem is caused by international aid groups' inability to get it to those in need.

Despite coordinating movements with the Israeli military, the convoy was hit as it was leaving its Deir al-Balah warehouse after unloading more than 100 tonnes of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza by sea, WCK said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington had spoken directly to close ally Israel's government and "urged a swift, thorough and impartial investigation to understand exactly what happened".

Britain, Australia and Poland, countries which have generally been friendly towards Israel, all demanded action to protect aid workers, underlining Netanyahu's increasing diplomatic isolation over the situation in Gaza.

WCK, which said last month it had served more than 42 mn meals in Gaza over 175 days, announced it was pausing its operations in the region immediately and would make decisions soon about the future of its work.
Conditions in Gaza remain extremely precarious with fighting going on in several areas and 71 people killed in Israeli strikes over the past 24 hours, according to Gaza health authorities.

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