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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has “expressed his outrage” during a call with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant following an airstrike in Gaza that resulted in the deaths of seven aid workers. The workers, affiliated with World Central Kitchen (WCK), were part of a convoy hit by the Israeli military after leaving a warehouse where they had delivered food aid.

Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder shared details of the call, saying, “Secretary Austin stressed the need to immediately take concrete steps to protect aid workers and Palestinian civilians in Gaza after repeated coordination failures with foreign aid groups. Secretary Austin urged Minister Gallant to conduct a swift and transparent investigation, to share their conclusions publicly, and to hold those responsible to account.

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Ryder also acknowledged that Secretary Austin used this opportunity to once again push back against a potential Israeli military operation in Rafah, where roughly 1 million Palestinians are currently residing. He said, “Secretary Austin stated that this tragedy reinforced the expressed concern over a potential Israeli military operation in Rafah, specifically focusing on the need to ensure the evacuation of Palestinian civilians and the flow of humanitarian aid.”

This incident has significantly intensified scrutiny of the Israeli military’s efforts to prevent civilian casualties in the conflict with Hamas and to facilitate humanitarian access to Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a thorough investigation and called the incident “tragic” and what “happens in war.”

Chef José Andrés, founder of WCK, has criticized the military’s actions, arguing that the aid workers were “systematically” targeted “car by car.” He added, “This was not just a bad luck situation where ‘oops’ we dropped the bomb in the wrong place. Even if we were not in coordination with the (Israel Defense Forces), no democratic country and no military can be targeting civilians and humanitarians.”


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