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IDF Chief of the General Staff LTG Herzi Halevi.Image: video

Israel apologizes for aid worker deaths

The head of the Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday night issued an official apology for the accidental deaths of seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers in the Gaza Strip on Monday.

“I want to be very clear—the strike was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers. It was a mistake that followed a misidentification, at night during a war in very complex conditions. It shouldn’t have happened,” said IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi in an English video message posted to social media.

The aid worker deaths come as Israel battles public opinion over broader civilian deaths even as data shows that among all modern wars, civilian deaths in Gaza are at a historic low.

Halevi spoke after OC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman presented him with the findings of a preliminary investigation into the incident.

The initial probe into the incident will be released to the public in the coming days, while a more in-depth investigation is ongoing. The larger investigation is being conducted by the IDF’s Fact Finding and Assessment Mechanism, an independent body of professionals and experts.

According to details from the report published by Channel 12 on Wednesday, at 10:30 p.m. on the night of the incident, armed men were spotted near the WCK vehicles, but no strike was authorized as Israeli forces had identified the convoy.

However, around 30 minutes later, as the three-vehicle convoy began traveling south on the coastal road to Rafah from the warehouse at Deir al-Balah in central Gaza where they had dropped off food, a decision was apparently made to launch the strike. The IDF is investigating why the order was given, and by whom.

U.S. President Joe Biden stated on Tuesday night that the deaths of the aid workers, including an American, are “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. 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,” Biden claimed.

Israel is not alone in accidentally killing civilians though the incident and resulting condenation often seems to appear in a vacuum.

On July 3, 1988, the U.S. Navy accidentally shot down an Iranian commercial jetliner. Iran Air Flight 655 was targeted by a guided missile launched from the USS Vincenes, killing 290 people on board died.

In 1999, during NATO’s involvement in the Serbian war, the U.S. Airforce fired two missiles which hit a passenger train as it crossed a river 190 miles south of Belgrade. Some estimates put the death toll at 60 people though not all bodies were recovered.

More recently, the Biden administration defended itself after 16 people were killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq. Local authorities say the bombing most of the dead were local civilians.

Edited from an article provided by JNS. Used with permission

“Incidents like yesterday’s simply should not happen. Israel has also not done enough to protect civilians,” he said. “The United States has repeatedly urged Israel to deconflict their military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations, in order to avoid civilian casualties.”

–JNS.org and Dwight Widaman

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