White House ‘outraged’ over strike on aid workers as British victims named

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a ‘tragic case’


TOPSHOT - EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / United Nations staff members inspect the carcass of a car used by US-based aid group World Central Kitchen, that was hit by an Israeli strike the previous day in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on April 2, 2024, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The international food aid charity said on April 2 it was pausing its Gaza aid operations after seven of its staff were killed in a "targeted Israeli strike" as they unloaded desperately needed food aid delivered by sea from Cyprus. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

John Kirby, the White House national security communications advisor, told reporters on Tuesday that the Biden administration is “outraged” over an Israeli drone strike in Gaza that killed seven aid workers, including an American.

The British victims were named as special forces veteran James Henderson, 33, from Cornwall, John Chapman, 57 from Buckinghamshire and James Kirby. 

Australian and Polish officials named Zomi Frankcom and Damian Sobol as victims from their countries.

“We were outraged to learn of an IDF strike that killed a number of civilian humanitarian workers yesterday from the World Central Kitchen, which has been relentless in working to get food to those who are hungry in Gaza and, quite frankly, around the world,” Kirby said. “We send our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones.”

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said at the same press briefing that US President Joe Biden called José Andrés, founder of World Central Kitchen, to say that he is “heartbroken” by the news.

Biden told Andrés that he would “make clear to Israel that humanitarian aid workers must be protected,” Jean-Pierre added.

The Israel Defense Forces took responsibility for the Monday night airstrike. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “tragic case of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people in the Gaza Strip.”

Kirby said at the briefing on Tuesday that Israel has completed a preliminary investigation into the airstrike and that Washington expects that a full investigation is likely to be completed within a matter of days.

“Our expectation is—and we’ve made this clear to them—that they’ll come clean about what they’ve learned, they’ll be fully transparent and if people need to be held accountable, that they’ll be held accountable,” he said.

More than 200 aid workers have been killed in the conflict since Oct. 7, making it one of the worst for that sector in recent history, Kirby said.

Asked how it was possible that a strike on such a convoy could be anything but a violation of international humanitarian law, Kirby challenged the premise of the question. Washington has no indication that Israel violated international humanitarian law in any instance in the past six months, Kirby said.

“Your question presumes, at this very early hour, that it was a deliberate strike, that they knew exactly what they were hitting, that they were hitting aid workers and did it on purpose,” Kirby told the reporter. “There’s no evidence of that.”

“I will also remind you, sir, that we continue to look at incidents as they occur. The State Department has a process in place, and to date, as you and I are speaking today, they have not found any incidents where the Israelis have violated international humanitarian law,” Kirby added.

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