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World demands accountability from Israel on aid convoy strike

Netanyahu urged to conduct thorough probe, take action to protect workers

By JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong and KARL WILSON in Sydney | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-04-04 08:10
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FILE PHOTO: A Palestinian boy reacts near the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 24, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

Several countries, including the United States, have demanded accountability from Israel following an Israeli military strike on an international food charity convoy, and called for Israel to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into what went wrong.

Many officials reject Israel's statement that the Monday strike was an "unintentional" killing of international aid workers in Gaza, and some analysts have accused Israel of scaring aid workers in a starving Gaza strategy.

Francesca Albanese, the United Nations' special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the West Bank and Gaza, accused Israeli forces on her X account of intentionally killing the seven World Central Kitchen workers so that donors "would pull out and civilians in Gaza could continue to be starved quietly". She also accused Western countries of not "moving a finger for the Palestinians".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had admitted there had been "a tragic event in which our forces unintentionally harmed noncombatants in the Gaza Strip".

"This happens in war," he said.

The bodies of six foreign aid workers killed were expected to be transported out of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

The latest tragedy has prompted the World Central Kitchen and some humanitarian organizations to reevaluate their work in Gaza, which is a huge blow to starving Palestinian civilians.

According to the UN, at least 196 humanitarian workers have been killed in Gaza since October.

US President Joe Biden said in a statement he was "outraged and heartbroken" by the deaths of the World Central Kitchen humanitarian workers. He demanded Israel's investigations to be swift, and that the findings "be made public".

In a joint statement with EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic, the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell demanded assurance of accountability for those responsible and reminded Israel of its obligation under International Humanitarian Law to "protect humanitarian workers at all times".

They also demanded the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution on adopting an immediate and sustainable cease-fire.

In a telephone call with Netanyahu on Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed outrage over the attack on innocent aid workers.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the strike "shocking" on his X account and demanded that Israel take immediate steps to protect workers and facilitate vital humanitarian operations in Gaza.

Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Israel ensures accountability and non-impunity "for all crimes committed as a result of the horrific war".

Halting escalation

The United Arab Emirates, which has normalized ties with Israel, also made its indignation felt. Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan stressed in a statement the UAE's call on Israeli authorities to "conduct an urgent, independent and transparent investigation, and accept full responsibility", and to strengthen the humanitarian response and intensify efforts aimed at "halting escalation in the occupied Palestinian territory and in the region".

Muslim Imran, director at the Asia Middle East Center for Research and Dialogue in Malaysia, said Israel "has made it very clear at the beginning of the ongoing onslaught" that it did not want anybody to stay in the northern regions of Gaza.

It "put a policy of ethnic cleansing in place" and it has been targeting "almost everyone or anything moving" in the northern parts of the Gaza Strip. He said aid workers — be it local or international aid workers — are seen by Israel as "the problem" for "obstructing Israel's policy of ethnic cleansing".

Imran said Israel has "not encouraged international aid workers to come in", and "targeted them and killed them", thinking that this will scare off international efforts from coming into Gaza.

"I don't buy Israel's propaganda and claims that it was an unintentional targeting because they targeted three different cars (and the Israeli military) have been coordinating with this particular international NGO and the Israel army knows exactly where the coordinates of these aid workers are," Imran told China Daily.

"By claiming that (the strikes are) unintentional and claiming that they will conduct an investigation, it's very funny when the criminal perpetrator conducts investigations on themselves."

Agencies contributed to this story.


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