Live Blog

Biden says Israel not doing 'enough to protect aid workers'

US President demands accountability over World Central Kitchen deaths

  • Gaza war damage amounts to $18.5 billion, says World Bank
  • Israel cuts off water supply to Nablus amid West Bank raids
  • Biden 'outraged' by Israel strike on Gaza aid workers
  • US denies involvement in Damascus strike
  • Palestine requests 'renewed' consideration for full UN membership
  • Death toll in Gaza rises to 32,916, with 75,494 injured
Live Updates
Apr 03, 2024, 12:48 PM

Live coverage has ended, please follow the latest live blog on the Israel-Gaza war here.

Apr 03, 2024, 11:50 AM

Aid worker killings 'testing' Polish-Israeli ties, Tusk warns

Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the killing of seven aid workers, including a Polish citizen, in Israeli air strikes on Gaza was putting solidarity with Israel "to the test".

"Mr Prime Minister Netanyahu, Mr Ambassador Liwne, the vast majority of Poles showed full solidarity with Israel after the Hamas attack,” he wrote on X. “Today you are putting this solidarity to a really hard test."

Mr Netanyahu said people were understandably angry after the attack, which forced World Central Kitchen to halt its operations distributing food aid in Gaza.

Damian Sobol, 35, was confirmed killed in the strike along with colleagues from Palestine, the UK, Australia, US and Canada.

Apr 03, 2024, 10:59 AM

Israeli army chief calls strike on aid workers 'grave mistake'

The head of the Israeli army said the strike on an aid convoy distributing food in northern Gaza was carried out in error.

"This incident was a grave mistake," army chief Herzi Halevi said in a video message. The attack hit World Central Kitchen vehicles, killing seven employees. 

"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.

"We are sorry for the unintentional harm to the members of WCK.”

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the three vehicles, all bearing the WCK logos, were struck at some distance from each other.

Survivors of the first strike notified the army they had been struck, it reported, quoting defence sources. The second vehicle was then struck.

The third car reportedly travelled for about 1.5km before being bombed.

Apr 03, 2024, 10:40 AM

Netanyahu says Israeli strike on aid workers 'unintentional'

Apr 03, 2024, 09:43 AM

Gaza war damage amounts to $18.5 billion, World Bank says

Children sit amid the rubble as people recover items from their damaged homes after Israeli air strikes on Rafah. Getty Images
The Gaza Strip suffered about $18.5 billion in damage to critical infrastructure in the first four months of the continuing war, the World Bank has said. The figure represents almost the entire GDP for Gaza and the occupied West Bank, it said in its Interim Damage Assessment Report.

Housing accounts for 72 per cent of damage costs, with public infrastructure such as water, health and education accounting for 19 per cent.

Damage to commercial buildings accounts for 9 per cent of funds needed to rebuild the enclave.

Israeli air strikes have left about 26 million tonnes of debris and rubble scattered across Gaza and will take years to clear, the World Bank added.

Gaza's Health Ministry has said thousands of people are estimated to be trapped under the rubble of levelled buildings.

More than a million people have been displaced and face famine as Israel continues attacks on Gaza, the latest of which killed seven aid workers with the World Central Kitchen.

About 92 per cent of major roads have been damaged or destroyed, the report added, one of several factors making the delivery of basic humanitarian aid "very difficult."

Apr 03, 2024, 07:38 AM

Israel cuts off water supply to Nablus amid West Bank raids

Israeli troops dug up roads and destroyed water networks in a Nablus village overnight, cutting off water supplies to local residents as raids continue in the occupied West Bank.

The army used bulldozers to destroy side roads in Deir Al Sharaf, village council member Omar Nofal told the Palestinian Wafa news agency.

The roads were used by local residents to bypass Israeli checkpoints.

Hundreds of families have also been left with no water after the army dismantled the village's water systems, he added.

Raids were also reported in Qaliqilya, Hizma, Azzun and Al Fara'a camp near Tubas, where soldiers also destroyed local infrastructure.

Apr 03, 2024, 07:11 AM

Gaza aid worker deaths send chilling message

UN staff members inspect the remains of a World Central Kitchen car hit in an Israeli strike. AFP
The National Editorial:

Less than three weeks ago, Erin Gore, chief executive of the World Central Kitchen charity, was in Abu Dhabi as the UAE co-ordinated efforts with the non-profit to avert famine in Gaza. In a joint interview with The National alongside Reem Al Hashimy, the UAE’s Minister of State for International Co-operation, Ms Gore spoke for many people frustrated at the dire situation in the Palestinian enclave when she said: “I cannot sleep at night, knowing we are not trying. I believe the greatest failure is to do nothing at all.”

That call was answered by WCK staff and volunteers, who along with another charity called Open Arms, helped organise food relief to Gaza through a maritime corridor with the help of the UAE, Cyprus and other partners. Among the WCK workers was a team of seven international humanitarians who had delivered 100 tonnes of food aid brought in through the sea corridor before their convoy – which was travelling through a deconflicted zone in armoured vehicles clearly bearing the WCK logo – was hit in an Israeli air strike on Deir Al Balah on Monday, despite co-ordinating its movements with Israel’s military.

The reality is this: an effective humanitarian operation cannot be run while a war rages and aid workers, journalists, doctors and ambulance drivers are targeted. Israel’s indifference to the lives of Palestinian civilians and its obstruction of aid through Gaza’s land crossings have forced some of its allies and partners to rely on sub-optimal aid operations such as air drops and sea corridors. The brutal strike on the WCK convoy, coupled with the deaths of more than 150 UN workers since October 7, sends a chilling message: if you come to help in Gaza, no one can guarantee your safety.

Read more

Apr 03, 2024, 05:12 AM

Biden 'outraged' by Israel strike on Gaza aid workers and demands accountability

Patrick deHahn reports:

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday said he was outraged by Israel's strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen workers and demanded accountability for those responsible.

In some of his strongest words of condemnation of Israel since it launched its war on Gaza after the October 7 Hamas attacks, Mr Biden said the US ally is failing to protect aid workers and civilians.

“I am outraged and heartbroken by the deaths of seven humanitarian workers from World Central Kitchen, including one American, in Gaza yesterday,” Mr Biden said.

Israel's “investigation must be swift, it must bring accountability, and its findings must be made public".

Read more

Apr 03, 2024, 03:34 AM

World Central Kitchen identifies seven killed in Israeli strike

World Central Kitchen on Tuesday released the names of its seven employees killed in an Israeli air strike, which hit the NGO's aid convoy in Gaza.

"These are the heroes of World Central Kitchen," it said on its website and in social media posts.

"These seven beautiful souls were killed by the IDF in a strike as they were returning from a full day's mission."

The post contained a composite of seven photos of the victims.

Those killed were WCK relief team members Palestinian Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, Australian Lalzawmi Frankcom, Damian Sobol of Poland, US-Canada dual citizen Jacob Flickinger, and WCK security team members John Chapman, James Henderson and Jams Kirby, all of the UK.

Apr 03, 2024, 02:57 AM

Israeli strike on aid workers highlights 'deconfliction' failings

The World Central Kitchen vehicle hit in an Israeli air strike on Deir Al Balah. Reuters
Willy Lowry and Adla Massoud report:The Israeli strike on a Gaza aid convoy highlights the risks humanitarians are taking and the failings of Israeli military communication channels that are supposed to prevent such incidents occurring.

Seven members of the humanitarian food organisation World Central Kitchen (WCK) were killed on Monday after an Israeli drone picked off three vehicles that had been travelling in a convoy in Deir Al Balah in central Gaza.

The vehicles were marked with WCK's logo and the charity had told the Israeli military of its planned movements via a “deconfliction” channel. Israel is investigating the strike but it appears WCK's message did not get through to the relevant military units.

Read more

Apr 03, 2024, 01:52 AM

Israel seeks to fuel Middle East conflict, Russian envoy tells Security Council

The Iranian embassy complex in Damascus was damaged by the deadly strike. AFP
Adla Massoud reports from UN:

Russia accused Israel on Tuesday of seeking to fuel conflict in the Middle East, following the “unacceptable” strike on Iran's embassy compound in Damascus.

Israel’s attack on Monday evening killed at least 11 people. Senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders, including the head of the Quds Force in Lebanon, were among the dead.

Tehran has vowed to retaliate. Israel has so far declined to comment.

Russia's UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya told the UN Security Council that Moscow considers such aggressive actions to be designed by Israel “to further fuel the conflict”.

He urged Israel to abandon the “practice of provocative acts of force in the territory of Syria and other neighbouring countries”.

Read more

Apr 03, 2024, 01:22 AM

British aid workers killed in Gaza named as UK demands investigation

People stand near the remains of a World Central Kitchen car hit in an Israeli strike on Deir Al Balah. EPA

Tariq Tahir reports from London:

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was appalled by the killing of seven aid workers, including three British citizens, in an Israeli air strike in Gaza and demanded "a thorough and transparent independent investigation" into the incident.

Mr Sunak made the comments during a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, adding that "far too many aid workers and ordinary civilians have lost their lives in Gaza and the situation is increasingly intolerable".

King Charles III has asked for specific updates about the strike, which killed seven members of a team from World Central Kitchen, a source told The National on Tuesday.

Read more

Apr 03, 2024, 01:15 AM

US forces shoot down drone near base in Syria

Thomas Watkins reports from the Pentagon:

US forces shot down an attack drone as it flew close to an American base in Syria, just hours after an Israeli attack on Iran’s embassy compound in Damascus, the Pentagon said.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said the drone was not directly attacking US forces at Al Tanf, near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders.

“The drone was travelling in the proximity of the base, and the base did engage that drone. But we do not assess right now that that was an attack on US forces,” she told reporters.

Iran-backed militias unleashed dozens of attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria in response to Israel’s war in Gaza, including a deadly attack on a US base in Jordan in January.

After retaliatory strikes and indirect negotiations with Iran, US forces have not faced a direct attack in Iraq and Syria since February 4.

Apr 03, 2024, 01:13 AM

US denies involvement in Damascus strike

Thomas Watkins reports from the Pentagon:

The US played no part in the Israeli strike on Iran’s embassy compound in Damascus, US officials said on Tuesday.

Iran’s Foreign Minister has said Washington should be held accountable because of its support for Israel.

Israel’s attack on Monday evening killed at least 11 people. Senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders, including Brig Gen Mohammad Reza Zahedi, head of the Quds Force in Lebanon, were among the dead.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on X that “America must be held accountable” for the attack, owing to its support for Israel.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the US had “nothing to do” with the strike.

“We were not involved in any way whatsoever. So the comments by the Iranian Foreign Minister that somehow we are to be held to account or we’re to blame. It’s just nonsense,” he told reporters.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said the US had told Iran through “private channels” that it was not responsible for the strike.

“I will reiterate the US had no involvement in that strike. And we had no knowledge about it ahead of time, so I’ll just leave it at that,” she said.

Apr 03, 2024, 12:23 AM

Pentagon uncertain whether US bombs were used in Israeli strike on aid convoy

Thomas Watkins reports from the Pentagon:

The Pentagon said it was unable to immediately determine whether bombs provided by the US were used in the Israeli strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza.

The US provides Israel with $3.8 billion each year in military funding.

Since the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, the Biden administration has at least twice bypassed Congress to approve the emergency resupply of munitions for Israel, which has widely used US-supplied bombs in Gaza.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh deferred to an Israeli investigation into Monday’s strike when asked whether US arms were used in the attack.

“I have no details on anything that was used in terms of what hit that convoy,” she told reporters.

“What I can tell you, and what we continue to say in our conversations with the Israelis, is that we always expect them to uphold humanitarian laws when it comes to the use of US-made systems, capabilities, munitions.”

Despite the mounting death toll in Gaza, where authorities say about 33,000 people have been killed, the US places no end-use restrictions or monitoring requirements on weapons it provides to Israel.

Apr 03, 2024, 12:22 AM

Palestine requests 'renewed' consideration for full UN membership

Adla Massoud reports from New York:

The State of Palestine on Tuesday said it sent an official letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres requesting to revive their application to become a full member state of the world body.

"Upon instructions of the Palestinian leadership, I have the honour to request that renewed consideration [dating back to 2011] be given to this application by the Security Council during April 2024," said the letter seen by The National.

The 2011 application, launched by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, never came before the Security Council for a vote, and the General Assembly voted to grant the Palestinians observer status in November 2012.

Any request to become a UN member state must first be recommended by the council, then endorsed by a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly.

Apr 02, 2024, 11:17 PM

Nothing justifies collective punishment of Palestinians, UN chief says

Adla Massoud reports from the UN:

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday nothing could justify the collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza.

“When I hear the words ‘human security’, I think about the two million humans in Gaza who have no security at all, desperately seeking protection from hunger, disease, and relentless Israeli bombardment,” Mr Guterres told the UN General Assembly.

“And I think about Israelis who feel a terrible absence of human security, subjected to indiscriminate Hamas rockets, and deeply traumatised by the terror attacks of October 7. Nothing can ever justify those attacks.”

Mr Guterres described the killing of the seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in an Israeli strike as “unconscionable”.

But he said it was the inevitable result of the way the war was being conducted.

Mr Guterres emphasised the urgent need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, the unconditional release of all hostages and the expansion of humanitarian aid into the enclave.

The Security Council resolution adopted last week "must be implemented without delay", he added.

Apr 02, 2024, 10:57 PM

Humanitarian catastrophe will not defeat Hamas, UK PM warns Netanyahu

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his country would not defeat Hamas by "allowing a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza", a British government spokesman said.

Mr Sunak said he was "appalled" by the killing of aid workers, including three British citizens, in an air strike and called on Israel to investigate, the spokesman said.

 “The Prime Minister said far too many aid workers and ordinary civilians have lost their lives in Gaza and the situation is increasingly intolerable," he added.

The UK called for immediate action by Israel to end restrictions on aid, end its disputes with the UN and aid agencies, protect civilians and repair vital Gazan infrastructure, including hospitals.

Apr 02, 2024, 10:44 PM

UN envoy for Syria condemns Iranian embassy attack

Patrick deHahn reports from New York:

Geir Pedersen, UN special envoy for Syria, said he condemned the attack on Iran's embassy complex in Damascus.

Regional actors should respect international law and exercise restraint at "a time of heightened violence and dangers", he added.

Mr Pedersen warned in a post on X that "any miscalculation could lead to broader conflict with extremely grave consequences for Syria and the region".

Apr 02, 2024, 10:42 PM

US ‘outraged’ by Israeli strike on aid workers

Jihan Abdalla reports from Washington:

The White House expressed its anger over the Israeli strike that killed seven aid workers in Gaza.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the US expected Israel to conduct a broad investigation into the attack that killed seven World Central Kitchen workers.

“We were outraged to learn of an IDF strike that killed a number of civilian humanitarian workers yesterday from the World Central Kitchen,” Mr Kirby said in a news briefing.

"We expect the broader investigation to be conducted and to be done so in a swift and comprehensive manner. We hope that those findings will be made public, and that there is appropriate accountability held."

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden called World Central Kitchen founder Jose Andres to offer his condolences.