Israeli PM admits Gaza strike 'unintentionally' killed 7 aid workers

What you need to know:

  • World Central Kitchen had already said a "targeted attack" by Israeli forces on Monday had killed the group, which included Australian, British, Palestinian, Polish and US-Canadian employees.

Palestinian Territories. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted Tuesday that Israel's military had "unintentionally" killed seven aid workers with a US charity in an air strike in Gaza.

World Central Kitchen had already said a "targeted attack" by Israeli forces on Monday had killed the group, which included Australian, British, Palestinian, Polish and US-Canadian employees.

Netanyahu said it was a "tragic case" that would be investigated "right to the end".

AFPTV footage showed the roof of a vehicle emblazoned with the group's logo had been punctured, alongside the mangled wreck of other vehicles.

The White House was "heartbroken", US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said on X, stressing that aid workers "must be protected as they deliver aid that is desperately needed".

Israeli strikes continued throughout the territory with the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza saying 71 people were killed between Monday and Tuesday.

The Israeli military on Monday ended a two-week operation around Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa, which left the complex in ruins and killed hundreds.

And regional tensions have surged after Israel was blamed for a deadly air strike on the Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday that killed seven Revolutionary Guards, two of them generals.

Tehran -- which backs Hamas and other groups fighting Israel and its allies across the region -- has vowed revenge against its long-time foe.

Netanyahu has promised to push on with the war to destroy Hamas despite nightly street protests at home demanding he step down.

He has also faced some pushback from staunch ally the United States.

The White House said in a statement Monday it had once again expressed concerns to Israel about a planned offensive in Gaza's crowded southern city of Rafah, and Israel had pledged to "take these concerns into account".

The right-wing Israeli leader also moved Monday to ban broadcasts from Israel by the Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera, which he labelled a "terrorist channel".

The broadcaster, several of whose journalists have been killed and wounded in the war, called his comments a "dangerous, ludicrous lie".

'Catastrophic' hunger

The bloodiest-ever Gaza war erupted with Hamas's October 7 attack, which resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory campaign has killed at least 32,916 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

Palestinian militants also seized around 250 hostages. Israel believes about 130 remain in Gaza, including 34 presumed dead.

On Monday, the army wrapped up a two-week operation at Gaza City's Al-Shifa Hospital after saying its troops had killed 200 enemy fighters.

A spokesman for Gaza's civil defence agency said 300 people had been killed in and around the hospital.

Military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said there were "more terrorists in the hospital than patients or medical staff", with 900 suspects detained, of whom over 500 were "definitely" militants.

Hamas has repeatedly denied operating from hospitals.

Gaza has been under Israeli blockade since the start of the war, with the United Nations accusing Israel of preventing humanitarian aid deliveries and warning of "catastrophic" hunger.

'Heartbroken' by deaths

US-based WCK has been working to unload food brought to Gaza by sea from Cyprus.

The bodies of its staff were taken to a hospital mortuary in the central town of Deir al-Balah, an AFP photographer reported.

One of them was laid on a makeshift stretcher, wearing a top with the WCK name and logo.

The group's CEO Erin Gore said: "I am heartbroken and appalled that we -- World Central Kitchen and the world -- lost beautiful lives today because of a targeted attack by the (Israeli army)."

The aid group said the team was travelling in a "de-conflicted" area in a convoy of "two armoured cars branded with the WCK logo" and another vehicle at the time of the strike.

"Despite coordinating movements with the (Israeli army), the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route," it said.

The Israeli military said it was "conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident", adding it had been "working closely with WCK".

Spanish charity Open Arms has been working closely with WCK on the aid deliveries from Cyprus, and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez demanded Israel explain the "brutal" strike.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese condemned the "completely unacceptable" attack.

Iran vows revenge

The Gaza war has ramped up tension between Israel and bitter foe Iran, and the groups it backs including Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Violence has also flared in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Monday's strike in Damascus killed 13, including seven Iranians and six Syrians, according to reports on Iranian state TV.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said seven of its members were killed, including two commanders of the Quds Force -- its foreign operations arm.

Israel has not commented but Iran has blamed its foe for the attack, with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying the "evil Zionist regime will be punished" for the "crime".

The UN Security Council was to discuss the strike later Tuesday at a meeting requested by Russia, and ally of Syria's government.