Israel sacks officers after aid workers killed in Gaza

An Israeli inquiry into the killing of seven aid workers in an air strike in Gaza has found serious errors and breaches of military procedure, resulting in two officers being dismissed and senior commanders formally reprimanded.

The inquiry found Israeli forces mistakenly believed they were attacking Hamas gunmen when drone strikes hit the three vehicles of the World Central Kitchen aid group, but that standard procedures had been violated.

"The strike on the aid vehicles is a grave mistake stemming from a serious failure due to a mistaken identification, errors in decision-making, and an attack contrary to the standard operating procedures," the military said in a statement on Friday.

It said it had dismissed a brigade chief of staff with the rank of colonel and a brigade fire support officer with the rank of major, and issued formal reprimands to senior officers including the general at the head of the Southern Command.

Following Israel's announcement, the WCK said the Israeli investigation is an important step but added that there needs to be a systemic change to prevent "more apologies and more grieving families".

The killing on Monday of the seven aid workers, who included citizens of Britain, Australia and Poland, a dual US Canadian national and a Palestinian colleague, triggered global outrage.

The seven World Central Kitchen workers who were killed in Gaza
Israel has come under increasing pressure over a strike that killed seven aid workers in Gaza.

The increased pressure on Israel included US demands to increase humanitarian aid supplies into Gaza, with President Joe Biden warning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that conditions could be placed on US aid if Israel did not respond.

Following the Thursday night phone call between the two leaders, the Israeli government announced it would reopen of the Erez crossing into northern Gaza and the temporary use of Ashdod port in southern Israel.

As well as reopening the Erez crossing point, which has been closed since it was destroyed during the October 7 attack on Israel, the security cabinet also approved increasing Jordanian aid through the Kerem Shalom crossing point.

The White House welcomed the steps by Israel, but spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said they "must now be fully and rapidly implemented".

On Monday, Israel launched a drone attack that killed seven workers with the World Central Kitchen group.

The group was founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres, who said the Israeli attack had targeted his aid workers "systematically, car by car".

Israel said on Thursday it would adjust tactics in the Gaza war after describing the attack as the result of a misidentification.

Smoke rises to the sky after an explosion in Gaza Strip
Israel says it will adjust its tactics in Gaza following the deadly strike on aid workers.

Biden, a lifelong supporter of Israel, has resisted pressure to withhold US aid or halt the shipment of weapons to the country.

His warning on Thursday marked the first time he has threatened to potentially condition aid, a development that could change the dynamic of the nearly six-month-old war.

Biden "made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers", the White House said of the leaders' phone call.

The president "made clear that US policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps".

Washington is Israel's top weapons supplier and the Biden administration has mostly provided a diplomatic shield for it at the United Nations.

At a briefing after the call, White House spokesperson John Kirby declined to elaborate on any specific changes the US would make in its policy towards Israel and Gaza.

Asked about possible changes in US policy, Netanyahu spokesperson Tal Heinrich told Fox News: "I think it's something that Washington will have to explain."

Nusseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip after an Israeli air strike
Israel's war on Hamas has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza officials.

During the call, Biden also urged Netanyahu to empower his negotiators to conclude a deal to bring home hostages captured by Hamas in its deadly October 7 attack that triggered the Israeli offensive.

Islamist fighters of the Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1200 people and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel retaliated by imposing a total siege on Gaza, then launching an air and ground assault that has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, say health authorities in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Biden supported Israel staunchly in the early days of its retaliation.

But as the Gaza death toll rose and the war widened with new fronts in Lebanon and Yemen, his administration began pushing for a ceasefire and humanitarian aid access.

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