The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.

Biden: NGO convoy strike isn’t isolated incident; Israel hasn’t done enough to protect aid workers, civilians

US President Joe Biden arrives on Air Force One Wednesday March 20, 2024, at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
US President Joe Biden arrives on Air Force One Wednesday March 20, 2024, at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

US President Joe Biden says the recent IDF strike on a humanitarian convoy in Gaza was not an isolated incident, as Israel has failed to sufficiently protect aid workers and Palestinian civilians in its war against Hamas in the coastal enclave.

“I am outraged and heartbroken by the deaths of seven humanitarian workers from World Central Kitchen, including one American, in Gaza yesterday. They were providing food to hungry civilians in the middle of a war. They were brave and selfless. Their deaths are a tragedy,” Biden says in a fiery statement.

“Israel has pledged to conduct a thorough investigation into why the aid workers’ vehicles were hit by airstrikes. That investigation must be swift, it must bring accountability, and its findings must be made public,” the president asserts.

“Even more tragically, this is not a stand-alone incident. This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed.”

“This is a major reason why distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza has been so difficult – because Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians.”

“Incidents like yesterday’s simply should not happen. Israel has also not done enough to protect civilians. The United States has repeatedly urged Israel to deconflict their military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations in order to avoid civilian casualties.”

“The United States will continue to do all we can to deliver humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza, through all available means.”

“I will continue to press Israel to do more to facilitate that aid, and we are pushing hard for an immediate ceasefire as part of a hostage deal. I have a team in Cairo working on this right now,” Biden notes.

“Earlier today, I spoke with my friend Chef José Andrés, the founder of World Central Kitchen, to convey my deepest condolences for the deaths of these courageous aid workers and to express my continued support for his and his team’s relentless and heroic efforts to get food to hungry people around the globe.”

“May God bless the humanitarian workers killed yesterday and comfort their families and loved ones in their grief,” Biden adds.

4 police officers injured in ramming attack in central Israel; suspect ‘neutralized’

The scene of an alleged ramming attack near Kochav Yair on April 3, 2024. (Screen capture/X)
The scene of an alleged ramming attack near Kochav Yair on April 3, 2024. (Screen capture/X)

Four police officers were injured, including one seriously, in a suspected terror ramming near the central town of Kochav Yair.

After striking the group of officers, the suspect then proceeded to the nearby 109 checkpoint where he attempted to stab the security forces on site who managed to “neutralize” him, police said, without specifying whether he was killed.

Israel Police has launched an investigation into the suspected terror attack.

In addition to the 23-year-old seriously wounded officer who was evacuated to a nearby hospital, another cop, 46, was moderately injured and two more were lightly wounded, medical authorities said.

While such attacks are more common in the West Bank, tonight’s incident was the latest to take place within the Green Line in recent weeks.

Bernie Sanders in message to Netanyahu: ‘Stop murdering innocent people’

US Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, talks with reporters following his meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, August 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
US Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, talks with reporters following his meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, August 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

US Senator Bernie Sanders offers a blunt message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding Israel’s prosecution of its war against Hamas in Gaza: “Stop murdering innocent people.”

While there is growing pushback in Israel regarding the premier’s handling of the ongoing hostage negotiations, overall public support for the war is widespread.

Nonetheless, progressive lawmakers in the US such as Sanders have sought to frame the operation as “Netanyahu’s war,” ostensibly believing that it is smarter politically to differentiate between their criticism of the increasingly unpopular prime minister and Israel more generally.

“Two-thirds of the people who have been killed, over 32,000 people have been killed, are women and children. This is inexcusable,” Sanders says in an interview with MSNBC, citing figures from the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

This figure hasn’t been verified and doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants. The IDF says it has killed over 13,000 terrorists in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 killed inside Israel on and immediately following the October 7 onslaught.

“What’s going on in Gaza now is one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the modern history of the world. We’re talking about the possibility of hundreds of thousands of children and others starving to death,” Sanders says.

“And it’s absolutely true that Hamas, a terrorist organization, started this war. But it is also true that right now, what Israel is doing is fighting not just Hamas but going to war against the entire Palestinian people.”

“We’re talking about 70% of the housing units in Gaza that have been destroyed or damaged. We’re talking about 1.8 million people who have been displaced, thrown out of their homes. We’re talking about people who today don’t have food, don’t have water, don’t have medical supplies, don’t have fuel.

“It is horrible. It is inexcusable. And it’s got to end right now. The United States cannot continue to be complicit in the horror that is taking place now.”

“Israel has the right to go after Hamas who started this war,” Sanders says. “Israel does not have the right to… create a situation where they’re stopping humanitarian aid from getting in. The result of this is children are starving to death right now. Do we want to be complicit in that? The answer, in my view, is most Americans… do not want to be complicit.”

Sanders says he fears Biden’s support for Israel may impact his re-election chances.

“No matter what, it’s going to be a difficult election and I’m going to do everything that I can, despite my disagreement with the president over what’s going on in Gaza, to make sure that Donald Trump is not elected president of the United States. That would be a horrific disaster for our country.

“But do I think that a lot of young people, people of color, many people… the polling is very clear. The Democratic base wants to stop funding for Netanyahu’s war machine.

“So if your question is, is it going to hurt the president unless he turns this around? Yeah, it will.”

Ben Gvir accuses Shin Bet of failing to protect Netanyahu

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir takes a shot at Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, accusing his organization of ignoring threats to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after police struggled to deploy crowd control measures at an anti-government rally outside Netanyahu’s home.

Ben Gvir claims on X that he approached Bar last week about what he says is neglect for security around Netanyahu, but “was answered with a refusal.”

“I demand that the Shin Bet wake up and immediately take the protection of the prime minister and his family seriously,” Ben Gvir writes. “A situation in which thousands of people break through barriers near the prime minister’s home and the Shin Bet turns a blind eye is unacceptable.”

At UN Security Council, Iran threatens ‘decisive response,’ wider war over consulate strike

As the UN Security Council meets to discuss an alleged Israeli strike on an Iranian consulate in Syria that killed at least 13 people, Tehran uses the opportunity to threaten revenge against the Jewish state.

Iran “has exercised considerable restraint, but it is imperative to acknowledge there are limits to such forbearance,” Tehran’s representative tells the Security Council. She adds that “Iran reserves its right” for “a decisive response.”

The representative says seven Iranians were killed, but the final death toll remains unknown with the site reduced to rubble.

While claiming that Iran is not backing attacks on Israel and the US by its proxies, she nonetheless warns that the consulate strike could “spark further conflict involving other countries.”

At the same meeting, Russia accuses Israel of seeking to “fuel” conflict in the Middle East, blaming it for the “unacceptable” strike.

Slamming the “flagrant violation” of Syria’s sovereignty, UN envoy Vasily Nebenzia tells the council that Russia was “of the view that such aggressive actions by Israel are designed to further fuel the conflict. They are absolutely unacceptable and must stop.”

Israel has not officially commented on the attack in Damascus, in which seven members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were killed. Among them was Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, who led the Quds force of the IRGC in Lebanon and Syria, Zahedi’s deputy, Gen. Mohammad Hadi Hajriahimi, and at least one member of Hezbollah.

Zahedi was reportedly responsible for the IRGC’s operations in Syria and Lebanon, for Iranian militias there, and for ties with Hezbollah, and thus the most senior commander of Iranian forces in the two countries. The IRGC is a US-designated terrorist organization.

Daughter in law of hostage dragged by police amid Jerusalem protest chaos

An activist is dragged off of a playground by police during an anti-government protest outside the Prime Minister's home in Jerusalem on April 2, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
An activist is dragged off of a playground by police during an anti-government protest outside the Prime Minister's home in Jerusalem on April 2, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

A video appears to show Ayala Metzger, daughter-in-law of elderly hostage Yoram Metzger, being dragged by police amid scuffles between anti-government protesters and cops outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem.

Metzger was one of several people who sat down inside a playground across the street from Netanyahu’s abode who were dragged to the side by police, after authorities apparently demanded protesters clear the area.

The Walla news site reports that several protesters were detained for questioning, amid chaotic scenes.

Reports also indicate that police arrested one person suspected of throwing a burning torch at a mounted officer.

There is no comment from police on arrests or detentions.

Hebrew media reports also say a water cannon deployed by police to clear the protesters was stopped in its tracks by a protester who laid down under it for an extended period.

UK’s Sunak tells Netanyahu he is ‘appalled’ by WCK killings in call

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office says he spoke to his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in a call and demanded “a thorough and transparent independent investigation” into the deaths of aid workers in Gaza.

“[Sunak] said he was appalled by the killing of aid workers, including three British nationals, in an airstrike in Gaza yesterday and demanded a thorough and transparent independent investigation into what happened,” a Downing Street spokesperson says.

“The prime minister said far too many aid workers and ordinary civilians have lost their lives in Gaza and the situation is increasingly intolerable,” the spokesperson adds.

Israel risking being left holding bag for getting aid to Gazans, US warns

A man carries a cardboard box of food aid provided by World Central Kitchen in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 17, 2024. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)
A man carries a cardboard box of food aid provided by World Central Kitchen in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 17, 2024. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

Israel risks being left without any partners to provide and deliver humanitarian assistance to Gaza after last night’s IDF strikes on a convoy belonging to the World Central Kitchen aid group in central Gaza, a US official tells The Times of Israel.

“People aren’t exactly lining up to do this work, and they just took out one of the few groups that has volunteered,” the US official says, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“They don’t want UNRWA involved? Fine. But they have to be… sure that the rest of the humanitarian workers are protected.”

“If [WCK] doesn’t come back, and other groups follow suit, the onus is going to fall on Israel to provide aid to the Palestinians,” the US official continues, citing international law.

“To not have proper de-confliction mechanisms put in place six months into the war is inexcusable,” the official says.

“The IDF is talking about improving communications between the Southern Command and COGAT. How is this mechanism only being put in place now?” the US official angrily asks, warning that the strike could have implications for continued fighting in Gaza as well as the hostage negotiations.

Protesters march toward Netanyahu’s home, spread through Jerusalem neighborhoods

Protesters march from the Knesset to Benjamin Netanyahu's residence on April 2, 2024. (Charlie Summers/Times of Israel)
Protesters march from the Knesset to Benjamin Netanyahu's residence on April 2, 2024. (Charlie Summers/Times of Israel)

A march from the Knesset led by the hostage families and anti-government protesters calling for a hostage deal heads to Netanyahu’s private home on Azza Street.

Marchers split into multiple directions throughout Jerusalem’s Rehavia neighborhood to reach the home and the nearby official Prime Minister’s Residence.

Police efforts to erect barricades have so far been unsuccessful at guiding the protest march, and organizers are urging participants to run as quickly as they can to evade crowd control measures.

At least one group finds its way to the Talbieh neighborhood, apparently bypassing the normal rally spot at Paris Square, banging drums and blowing horns in an outpouring of anger against Netanyahu and the government.

Herzog apologizes to World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés over deadly attack

First Lady Jill Biden and Spanish chef Jose Andres of the World Central Kitchen greet volunteers from the World Central Kitchen association during a visit to a reception center for Ukrainian refugees in Madrid, Spain, June 28, 2022. (Oscar del Pozo/Pool Photo via AP, File)
First Lady Jill Biden and Spanish chef Jose Andres of the World Central Kitchen greet volunteers from the World Central Kitchen association during a visit to a reception center for Ukrainian refugees in Madrid, Spain, June 28, 2022. (Oscar del Pozo/Pool Photo via AP, File)

President Isaac Herzog calls World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés, expressing “deep sorrow and sincere apologies” over the deadly strike on a WCK convoy last night, according to a statement from the President’s office.

Herzog adds that Israel is committed to carrying out a thorough investigation of the incident.

He also “affirmed Israel’s commitment to delivering and upgrading humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza,’ and thanked Andres and the WCK for their “commitment to the wellbeing of Israelis and Palestinians, and to the values of humanity.”

US fumes over killing of aid workers, says Israel needs to work harder to protect NGOs; Biden calls WCK founder

At a White House press briefing, National Security Council Communications Adviser John Kirby says the US is “outraged” by a deadly IDF strike on the World Central Kitchen convoy overnight.

“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 relentlessly working to get food to those who are hungry in Gaza,” says Kirby.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says US President Joe Biden called WCK founder José Andrés to express his condolences.

Kirby says that the US expects a broad investigation: “We hope that those findings will be made public, and that there is appropriate accountability held.”

He notes that more than 200 aid workers have been killed in the war, apparently relying on figures from the UN

He says that the strike on WCK workers is “emblematic of the larger problem and evidence of why distribution of aid in Gaza has been so challenging.”

The IDF “must do much more to improve deconfliction processes,” he charges, while clarifying that the WCK strike did not appear to have been intentional.

Kirby says that the US “will continue to press Israel to do more” to ensure the safety of aid workers.

The spokesman says that force protection will be “first and foremost” in the minds of America’s military and political leaders when US forces start setting up the dock of the Gaza shore. “We’re under no illusion that Gaza isn’t a war zone,” he says.

Kirby adds that there will likely be an in-person meeting next week with senior Israeli officials to follow-up on yesterday’s virtual meeting regarding a potential Israeli operation in Rafah.

IDF says cell that rocketed Nahariya area hit with airstrike

The IDF says it carried out an airstrike on a terror cell behind a rocket barrage on the Western Galilee earlier this evening.

The cell was spotted and targeted in the Hamoul area of southern Lebanon, shortly after they fired some 10 rockets at the Nahariya area, the IDF says.

It publishes footage of the strike.

Hezbollah earlier claimed responsibility for shooting a Katyusha rocket at the area.

Police could open criminal probe into Labor MK for blocking road, lighting fire at protest

Police are looking into the possibility of opening a criminal investigation into Labor MK Naama Lazimi over allegations related to her activity at a raucous protest against the government in Tel Aviv Saturday night.

According to reports in several Hebrew media outlets, Tel Aviv Police are seeking permission to probe the left-wing lawmaker after she was part of a group of protesters and family members of hostages who blocked the Ayalon Highway and lit a bonfire on the busy road.

In footage and photos from the protest on Saturday, Lazimi can be seen with a group blocking the Ayalon and adding a match or piece of wood to a bonfire.

On X, Lazimi writes that “if protesting on behalf of the hostages is something that is investigated by the police, then get ready for interrogation rooms full to the brim with a dedicated public and with members of Knesset who have not lost their conscience.”

“Ben Gvir, I’m not afraid of you,” she adds, addressing the far-right minister who oversees the Israel Police.

Three of the 7 World Central Kitchen fatalities named

Names and details are being confirmed of some of the 7 World Central Kitchen staffers who were killed in the IAF’s airstrike in Gaza late last night.

The fatalities were three Britons, a Palestinian, a US-Canadian dual citizen, a Pole and an Australian.

The Australian government identified its national as Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom, 43, from Melbourne. According to The Guardian, it said it was confirming her death with “overwhelming sadness,” and that “her tireless work to improve the lives of others should never have cost Ms Frankcom her own.”

The Polish fatality was named as Damian Soból, 35. The mayor of his home city Przemyśl, in southern Poland, Wojciech Bakun, wrote on Facebook: “There are no words to describe what people who knew this fantastic guy feel at this moment… May he rest in peace.”

The Palestinian victim was a driver and a translator for the charity. The Washington Post named him as Seif Issam Abu Taha, 26, citing the director of al-Najjar Hospital in Gaza and a relative.

The UK government has confirmed the deaths of the three British nationals, but has not yet released their names. The US-Canadian citizen has also not yet been named.

Poland says Israel should ‘compensate’ families of killed aid workers

United Nations staff members inspect the remains of a car used by US-based aid group World Central Kitchen hit by an Israeli strike the previous day in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on April 2, 2024. (AFP)
United Nations staff members inspect the remains of a car used by US-based aid group World Central Kitchen hit by an Israeli strike the previous day in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on April 2, 2024. (AFP)

Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Szejna says Israel should “compensate” the families of the seven aid workers, including a Polish citizen, who were killed in an Israeli strike in Gaza yesterday.

“The authorities should think about who should be held criminally responsible for pressing a certain button and how to compensate the families of the victims — even if it’s impossible to do so with money,” Szejna tells Radio Zet.

Second aid group suspends Gaza operations, citing danger to staff

Aid organization Anera says it is suspending relief operations in Gaza, citing security risks after seven members of fellow group World Central Kitchen were killed in an Israeli strike.

The group says the deadly bombing is “part of the same pattern of targeted attacks on humanitarian aid workers” that left one of its staffers dead last month.

“After six months of constant bombing and flagrant violations of international law, and with consultation from our Gaza team, Anera has concluded it is best to pause our operations,” the group writes online, stressing that the pause is temporary.

It says it will continue organizing aid trucks and preparing food to go out, but is pausing “food and non-food distributions, free healthcare days and psychosocial activities” until “our staff in Gaza determine they are able to deliver aid without fear of being killed.”

Thousands rally outside Knesset for elections, hostage deal for third straight night

Thousands attend an anti-government protest outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on April 2, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Thousands attend an anti-government protest outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on April 2, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Former prime minister Ehud Barak leads thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the Knesset in chants calling for elections to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as a mass protest in Jerusalem is held for a third consecutive night.

Barak derides the current government as “stumbling and confused.”

The former premier calls for the Histadrut labor union to throw its full support behind the demonstrations in order to bring a “shutdown of the entire country.”

At the rally, which is also centered around calls for a deal to release captives held in Gaza, Merav Svirsky, the sister of murdered hostage Itay Svirsky, lambasts Netanyahu for not granting the Israeli delegation tasked with negotiations a full mandate to reach a deal.

“Bibi is playing politics on the backs of the hostage families,” she says. “It’s not that he failed to return them [the hostages], it’s not that he’s unable, it’s that he doesn’t want to, and thus the prime minister has to step down immediately.”

Israel’s plan for Rafah evacuations isn’t viable, US officials said to warn in ‘harsh’ video call

File: From left to right: Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Council chairman Tzachi Hanegbi at the State Department in Washington on March 7, 2023. (Antony Blinken/Twitter)
File: From left to right: Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Council chairman Tzachi Hanegbi at the State Department in Washington on March 7, 2023. (Antony Blinken/Twitter)

Channel 12 reports what it says are quotes from yesterday’s video call between US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and Israel’s National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

It says the US representatives showed deep concern about the threat of famine in Gaza, and were highly critical of the IDF’s plans for Rafah, saying its evacuation proposal for the million-plus noncombatants in the city is not impressive and not implementable.

The TV report says the call was extremely “harsh” in that the US and Israel are on “completely different pages” when it comes to Israel’s planned operation in Rafah, where four Hamas battalions are deployed.

The call lasted two hours, and was also attended by Israel’s Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog, Pentagon representatives and unnamed others.

In Hebrew translations of what was originally said in English, Channel 12 reports the following remarks:

Sullivan: “You’re going to be responsible for the third famine crisis of the 21st century. That is not something we can accept as partners. The [Rafah] evacuation plan you’ve presented thus far is not impressive and is not implementable.”

Blinken: “According to the pace of your operations, it will take you four months to evacuate Rafah.”

Dermer and Hanegbi were characterized as retorting that Hamas cannot be dismantled without going into Rafah, calling it an essential condition for achieving the war’s aims.

Sullivan: “If you don’t have a proper plan for the day after, nothing will help you to advance the dismantling of Hamas. Not [operating in] Rafah, and not anything else.”

Essentially, Channel 12 sums up, the US representatives on the call made clear that if Israel wants any kind of American green light for an operation in Rafah, it needs to provide a viable “day after” plan for Gaza and a credible evacuation plan for Rafah.

IDF says 10 rockets fired at Western Galilee as fresh rocket sirens sound

A barrage of some 10 rockets were fired from Lebanon at the Western Galilee a short while ago, the IDF says.

Some of the projectiles were shot down by the Iron Dome air defense system, according to the IDF.

There are no reports of injuries in the attack.

The announcement comes as fresh sirens sound in Margaliot, on the other end of the Lebanon border region, near Kiryat Shmona.

Many communities close to the Lebanon border have been evacuated amid daily attacks by Hezbollah and allied terror groups, though sirens sounded as far south as Nahariya, which has not been evacuated.

The IDF says it is shelling launch sites with artillery.

Biden to meet Muslim leaders, hold scaled-down iftar break fast

US President Joe Biden is set to host a small group of Muslim American community leaders at the White House for a meeting on Tuesday followed by a scaled-down iftar dinner, as he seeks to relieve tensions over his administration’s staunch support for Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

Biden and US Vice President Kamala Harris will be joined by Muslim staffers in the Democratic administration and senior national security aides, a White House official said, in the most high-profile engagement yet between the White House and the Muslim American community since the war began six months ago. Muslim staffers will then join the president for a dinner to break the fast during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.

The White House does not immediately name the community members who would join the meeting.

No injuries reported as multiple rockets fired at north

Hebrew media reports say around a dozen or more rockets were fired at Nahariya and surrounding towns.

The Magen David Adom rescue service says there are no reports of injuries or rocket impacts.

Videos shared online appear to show rockets being intercepted in the sky.

World Bank calculates war damage in Gaza at $18.5 billion

A joint World Bank and the United Nations report puts the cost of damage to Gaza’s critical infrastructure between October and January at nearly $18.5 billion.

The interim damage report, which relies on remote sensing data, finds that 72 percent of that cost comes from damage to housing.

It is estimated that there are 26 million tons of rubble in the Strip that will need to be cleared.

According to the report, 92% of primary roads in Gaza have been destroyed or damaged.

Rocket sirens sound in Nahariya, surrounding areas

Rocket sirens are ringing in several areas of the Western Galilee near the border with Lebanon, including the city of Nahariya.

The apparent attack on Nahariya, where some 60,000 people live, is the first in months.

Killing of aid workers ‘inevitable result’ of Israel’s management of war, UN says

The killing of seven people working for celebrity chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen charity in Gaza is “the inevitable result of the way this war is currently being conducted,” United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric says

The UN again calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the war between Israel and Palestinian terror group Hamas, Dujarric says.

He notes that senior UN aid official Sigrid Kaag met with World Central Kitchen staff in Gaza just hours before they were killed.

“Let humanitarian aid workers do their job,” Dujarric says in a message to Israel.

UAE suspending use of maritime aid corridor after deadly strike

An Open Arms vessel and a barge carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip are pictured offshore in Gaza City as it awaits approval to dock, on April 1, 2024. (AFP)
An Open Arms vessel and a barge carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip are pictured offshore in Gaza City as it awaits approval to dock, on April 1, 2024. (AFP)

The United Arab Emirates has paused its involvement in the Gaza maritime aid corridor pending a full investigation and assurances from Israel that aid workers will be protected, a senior Emirati official tells The Times of Israel.

An Israeli strike killed seven people working for the World Central Kitchen aid group in Gaza on Monday.

The UAE has been the main financier for aid through a maritime corridor to Gaza, often in missions organized by WCK.

“The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza requires the adoption of such a collective international approach to immediately mitigate the threat to innocent lives, by ensuring urgent, safe, unhindered, and sustainable delivery of aid,” the UAE says in a joint statement with Cyprus, which has said it will seek to keep the aid corridor operational.

Guterres condemns strike on Iranian consulate in Damascus

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is condemning an attack on Iran’s diplomatic premises in Damascus, calling on “all concerned to exercise utmost restraint and avoid further escalation,” his spokesperson says.

The alleged Israeli strike on the building housing Iran’s ambassador and consular services in Syria killed 13 people, including two senior officials from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Guterres “cautions that any miscalculation could lead to broader conflict in an already volatile region, with devastating consequences for civilians who are already seeing unprecedented suffering in Syria, Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and the broader Middle East,” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric says in a statement.

War cabinet set to discuss Cairo talks, aid convoy disaster this evening

The war cabinet meets at the IDF's Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv on January 18, 2024. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
The war cabinet meets at the IDF's Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv on January 18, 2024. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The war cabinet is slated to meet this evening at 7:30 p.m., an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel.

The members of the cabinet are expected to discuss hostage talks in Cairo and the deadly strike on the World Central Kitchen convoy.

Israel hoping World Central Kitchen keeps working, is in touch with organization

Israel hopes that the World Central Kitchen will return to the Gaza Strip to continue its humanitarian work, an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel.

“We are in regular contact with the organization,” says a second official.

There is no plan in place to replace the work the WCK did in the event it does not come back after the deadly strike on its convoy, the first official adds.

The IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories stridently denies that the WCK’s functions couldn’t be replaced.

“We deeply value their work,” says a spokesperson.

“The IDF works with a range of organizations and private companies throughout the Gaza Strip, and has a range of options,” the spokesperson continues.

COGAT would not share what the plan is to replace WCK on the routes on which their ground convoys operated.

WCK, which said last month it had served more than 42 million meals in Gaza over 175 days, announced it was pausing its operations in the region immediately and would make decisions soon about the future of its work.

The WKC aid ship Jennifer, which arrived in Gaza on Monday, was seen returning to Cyprus on Tuesday, apparently still laden with some aid intended for Gazans.

UK dresses down Israeli ambassador over aid staffer deaths

Britain’s foreign office says it has summoned Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely over the deaths of seven aid workers in Gaza.

UK Minister for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell says he called for “an effective deconfliction mechanism,” and more aid into the Strip.

“I set out the Government’s unequivocal condemnation of the appalling killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, including three British Nationals. I requested a quick and transparent investigation, shared with the international community, and full accountability,” he says in a statement.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry tells The Times of Israel that Hotovely reiterated the same comments expressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the strike, in which Israel promised to investigate the attack, calling it unintentional and a tragedy.

Separately, UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron posts on X that he had spoken with his Israeli counterpart Israel Katz to underline that the deaths were “completely unacceptable.”

“Israel must urgently explain how this happened and make major changes to ensure safety of aid workers on the ground,” Cameron says in the post.

Israel pushing France to rethink UN ceasefire resolution

Foreign Minister Israel Katz’s office says Jerusalem is asking France to shelve a UN Security Council draft resolution calling for a ceasefire that is currently being circulated.

A source in Katz’s office tells The Times of Israel that the foreign minister told his French counterpart Stéphane Séjourné yesterday that the draft would reward terror and put a hostage deal at risk.

France has agreed to discuss the draft with Israel over the next two weeks, the source says.

Katz also spoke with the US about the resolution, and asked them to veto it if the language doesn’t change, according to the official.

The draft resolution, seen by Reuters, calls for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages still held in the Strip.

Formal negotiations on the draft begin on Thursday, a diplomatic official tells The Times of Israel.

Blinken: Israel needs to do more to protect relief workers in Gaza

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, and French Defense Minister, Sebastien Lecornu, right, visit French arms manufacturer NEXTER that provides Caesar artillery to Ukraine in Versailles, outside Paris, Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (AP/Thomas Padilla)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, and French Defense Minister, Sebastien Lecornu, right, visit French arms manufacturer NEXTER that provides Caesar artillery to Ukraine in Versailles, outside Paris, Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (AP/Thomas Padilla)

At a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné in Paris, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken laments “the record number of humanitarian workers who have been killed in this particular conflict.”

“They have to be protected,” says Blinken after the deadly Israeli strike on a World Central Kitchen convoy, in which 7 aid workers were killed. “We shouldn’t have a situation where people who are simply trying to help their fellow human beings are themselves at grave risk.”

Blinken says the US has directly urged Israel to initiate “a swift, a thorough, an impartial investigation to understand exactly what happened.”

He says the Israelis must do more “to protect innocent civilian lives,” be they Palestinians or foreign aid workers.

According to Blinken, the US and France both “agree on the need to get to the quickest possible ceasefire, to allow the release of hostages, to enable the surge and sustainment of humanitarian assistance.”

Blinken praises Israel for taking “important steps” on humanitarian aid, including opening the Kerem Shalom crossing, allowing flour in through the Ashdod post, opening Gate 96 to northern Gaza and facilitating the maritime corridor from Cyprus.

“It is simply put, insufficient,” Blinken adds. “It is not enough [for the Gazans] caught in a crossfire of Hamas’s making.”

Séjourné issues his own “firm condemnation” of the strike in Gaza.

He also calls for all hostages to be released immediately and without conditions, that all civilians must be protected, and that massive humanitarian aid must be delivered.

Answering a question about alleged Israeli strikes on Iranian officers in Syria, Blinken says the US is trying to prevent escalation, and that the US is “trying to ascertain the facts.”

He also defends continued weapons supplies to Israel, saying they go to defense, deterrence and replenishment against threats beyond Hamas, including Hezbollah and Iran.

Gallant orders Israeli officials to brief figures abroad on Gaza aid worker attack

United Nations staff members inspect the remains of a car used by US-based aid group World Central Kitchen hit by an Israeli strike the previous day in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on April 2, 2024. (AFP)
United Nations staff members inspect the remains of a car used by US-based aid group World Central Kitchen hit by an Israeli strike the previous day in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on April 2, 2024. (AFP)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has instructed Israeli officials to “brief international organizations and partners” on Israel’s strikes in the Gaza Strip overnight that killed seven aid workers with the World Central Kitchen organization.

The instruction comes after Gallant held an assessment with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and other senior military officials on the incident, his office says.

“Gallant referred to the tragic nature of the incident and emphasized the importance of conducting a thorough, professional investigation, which will be followed by the implementation of lessons learned,” according to a Defense Ministry statement.

The statement adds that Gallant “highlighted the important work undertaken by international aid organizations, as well as Israel’s commitment to working closely with partner countries and organizations and facilitating the distribution of humanitarian aid.”

At the end of the meeting, Gallant instructed defense officials to carry out four main measures, his office says: establish a team to investigate the incident; open a new command room for the military to better coordinate humanitarian aid activity in Gaza; “support distribution mechanisms by allocating appropriate resources”; and “brief international organizations and partners on the details of the incident and subsequent actions being taken” while maintaining “an open and transparent line of communication.”

Russia says Security Council to discuss condemning Damascus strike

The UN Security Council will meet in the coming hours to discuss a strike on an Iranian consulate in Syria Monday, allegedly by Israel, that killed two high-level Revolutionary Guard members, Russia’s state-run TASS news agency says.

The meeting, scheduled for 3 p.m. New York time, was requested by Moscow to consider an Iranian demand that the strike be condemned, TASS says.

Syria says 13 people were killed when Israeli jets fired missiles at a building in Damascus which housed the Iranian embassy’s consular section and the residence of ambassador Hossein Akbari, completely destroying it.

Russia says the strike was an act of aggression and calls on Israel to cease such “absolutely unacceptable” actions.

In a statement, Moscow says deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin met with Iran’s ambassador to Russia Tuesday afternoon, but does not mention discussions about the attack.

Report: 3 missiles fired at Gaza aid convoy after troops thought they saw armed terror operative on truck

An Israel Defense Forces drone fired repeatedly at a convoy of aid workers after troops thought an armed terrorist was among the group, according to an Israeli report citing unnamed security sources with knowledge of the incident that left seven staffer of US-based charity World Central Kitchen dead.

According to the Haaretz report, a Hermes 450 UAV fired three missiles at the convoy in quick succession despite the vehicles’ roofs being clearly marked as belonging to WCK. The decision was made by a unit guarding the aid transport route after troops earlier spotted what appeared to be an armed figure riding on a truck that entered an aid storage area with three WCK cars. The attack occurred moments after the three cars left the storage area, leaving the truck and the armed figure behind, according to the report.

After a missile hit one car, those inside evacuated to the other two cars, and managed to report they had been attacked before a second missile hit another car. As the last unharmed car approached to evacuate the wounded, a third missile hit. All seven people who had been in the vehicles were killed, Haaretz reports.

There is no official comment on the report.

Aid convoys often use armed security to keep trucks from being looted or cleaned out by locals clans or desperately hungry civilians.

Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman will present IDF chief Herzi Halevi with results of an initial probe later tonight.

According to Haaretz, Israel is dispatching officials to the countries where the foreign volunteers hailed from to present the initial findings to counterparts there.

IDF says dozens of Gazan fighters nabbed during raid on Khan Younis hospital

Troops of the Commando Brigade operate in the Khan Younis neighborhood of al-Amal, in a handout image published April 2, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
Troops of the Commando Brigade operate in the Khan Younis neighborhood of al-Amal, in a handout image published April 2, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF says troops have detained dozens of terror operatives who attempted to leave Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis in recent days.

According to the IDF, troops of the Commando Brigade searched the Nasser and al-Amal hospitals “to make sure that the Hamas terror organization does not establish its infrastructure there again.”

The dozens of suspects have been handed over to the Shin Bet security agency and Military Intelligence Directorate’s Unit 504 for further interrogation, the army says.

Also amid the operations in the al-Amal neighborhood of Khan Younis, the IDF says the commandos captured weapons and killed dozens of gunmen.

Parents of soldier killed in Gaza say organs donated

Sgt. First Class Sivan Weil (Israel Defense Forces)
Sgt. First Class Sivan Weil (Israel Defense Forces)

The parents of Sgt. First Class Sivan Weil say the organs of their son who was killed in Gaza have been donated to several people.

Weil, 20, of the Commando Brigade’s Egoz unit, was from Ra’anana. He was badly wounded in the Khan Younis area of the southern Gaza Strip on Friday and he died in Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba on Sunday.

Weil’s heart was transplanted into a 45-year-old man and his lungs into a 37-year-old man at Sheba Medical Center. One of his kidneys went to a 66-year-old man at Hadassah Medical Center, and the other, along with his pancreas, to a 48-year-old man at Beilinson Hospital. Weil’s liver was transplanted into a 40-year-old woman at Beilinson.

“We hope that the donation of Sivan’s organs will save lives, and thereby forever memorialize our angel,” the parents say.

Justice Ministry unit to ‘weigh options’ after cop cleared in teen’s shooting death

Members of the Ethiopian community of Israel face policemen during clashes in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya on July 2, 2019, during a protest against the killing of Solomon Tekah, a young man of Ethiopian origin, who was killed by an off-duty police officer (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Members of the Ethiopian community of Israel face policemen during clashes in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya on July 2, 2019, during a protest against the killing of Solomon Tekah, a young man of Ethiopian origin, who was killed by an off-duty police officer (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)

The Justice Ministry’s Department for Internal Police Investigations says it will weigh its options after the Haifa Magistrate’s Court acquitted a police officer of reckless manslaughter in the death of teen Solomon Tekah in 2019.

DIPI says it will study the ruling, in which a judge cleared the officer by accepting his claim that he had felt he was in life-threatening danger. It emphasizes that it indicted the off-duty officer due to the fact that he fired a shot at the ground, close to Tekah’s feet, “in total contravention of police regulations and procedures which allow in such circumstances warning shots in the air at the most.”

The department adds that the Haifa Magistrate’s Court judge found that DIPI’s indictment of the police officer had been justified and that it had acted “appropriately and professionally in conducting the investigation, the decision to file an indictment, and the management of the case.”

Over 200 aid workers killed in Gaza during war, UN official says

The UN’s top official for the coordination of humanitarian aid in Gaza says the killing of seven staffers from a charity group helping ease famine-like conditions in the Strip “is not an isolated incident.”

“At least 196 humanitarians had been killed” in Gaza from October 2023 until March 20, says Jamie McGoldrick in a statement. “This is nearly three times the death toll recorded in any single conflict in a year.”

Israel has acknowledged mistakenly bombing seven aid workers from US-based World Central Kitchen who were unloading food brought by sea to the war-torn Gaza Strip, and promised an investigation into the incident.

McGoldrick says the Palestinian enclave “has become one of the world’s most dangerous and difficult places to work. There is no safe place left in Gaza.”

Separately, the United Arab Emirates Foreign Ministry condemns the attack, accusing Israel of deliberately targeting the aid workers.

The UAE holds Israel fully responsible for this dangerous development, and calls for an urgent, independent and transparent investigation, and punishment of those who have committed this heinous crime in contravention of international humanitarian law,” a statement from Abu Dhabi reads. The UAE is a major funder of World Central Kitchen.

Lapid to visit Washington next week for talks on hostages, bilateral ties — source

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid will be flying to Washington next week, an aide says.

A source in Lapid’s office tells The Times of Israel that the focus of the visit will be “strengthening the Israel-US strategic relationship, bringing the hostages back home and Israel’s role in the region.”

His office refuses to comment on who Lapid will meet with during the trip, or other details.

Haifa judge clears off-duty cop who killed Ethiopian teen Solomon Tekah in 2019

Family members and supporters attend a ceremony in memory of 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli, Solomon Tekah who was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer on in Kiryat Haim, July 10, 2019. (Flash90)
Family members and supporters attend a ceremony in memory of 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli, Solomon Tekah who was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer on in Kiryat Haim, July 10, 2019. (Flash90)

The off-duty police officer accused of recklessly manslaughter in the death of Solomon Tekah in 2019 by firing warning shots at the ground instead of into the air is found not guilty by the Haifa Magistrate’s Court.

Tekah, a 19-year-old from Israel’s Ethiopian community, sustained injuries from a bullet fired by the officer into the ground when it ricocheted into him during a violent incident in Haifa.

Tekah’s death led to renewed accusations of police violence and discrimination against the Ethiopian Israeli community and severe riots around the country.

The Haifa Magistrate’s Court judge finds that forensic tests proved that Tekah had been one of several youths who threw rocks at the police officer, and that the cop had been hit by some of those rocks, including on the back of the neck which a medical expert told the court represented a threat to the officer’s life. The officer’s name has been barred from publication by court order.

The judge says that the police officer’s account of events was accurate and backed by the evidence, and that he had acted in self-defense.

Netanyahu says Israel will thoroughly investigate accidental killing of aid workers in Gaza

After the IDF said it was responsible for the strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen workers in Gaza overnight, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will do everything it can to ensure an incident like that doesn’t happen again.

“Unfortunately, yesterday there was a tragic incident in which our forces accidentally struck innocent people in the Gaza Strip,” he says ahead of his discharge from Hadassah Medical Center where he underwent surgery for a hernia earlier this week.

“This happens in war, we are thoroughly investigating it, we are in contact with the relevant parties and will do everything to ensure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again,” he says.

IDF takes responsibility for strike on aid workers in Gaza, will release initial probe in coming days

People gather around the shell of a car used by US-based aid group World Central Kitchen, which was allegedly hit by an Israeli strike the previous day in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, April 2, 2024. (AFP)
People gather around the shell of a car used by US-based aid group World Central Kitchen, which was allegedly hit by an Israeli strike the previous day in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, April 2, 2024. (AFP)

The IDF has taken responsibility for the strike in the central Gaza Strip last night, killing seven aid workers with World Central Kitchen.

The military acknowledges that it carried out the strike south of Deir al-Balah, although it says it does not know the full circumstances yet. Regardless, the IDF says the strike was a serious incident that shouldn’t have happened.

In a video statement earlier today, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said he had spoken to the founder of WCK to express his condolences over the strike.

An initial IDF probe into the incident is expected to be released to the public in the coming days, while the General Staff Fact-Finding Assessment Mechanism — an independent military body responsible for investigating unusual incidents amid the war — will carry out a more in-depth investigation.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi is personally involved in the military’s response to the incident, including updating the head of the US Central Command on the strike.

Halevi is due to meet with the head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, today to be briefed on the military’s initial probe into the strike.

The chief of staff is also set to inaugurate a new command center with the Defense Ministry’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), aimed at better coordinating humanitarian activity in the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu to be discharged from hospital shortly, is said to be in ‘excellent condition’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a recorded statement ahead of his release from Hadassah Medical Center where he underwent surgery for a hernia, April 2, 2024. (Screenshot, GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a recorded statement ahead of his release from Hadassah Medical Center where he underwent surgery for a hernia, April 2, 2024. (Screenshot, GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to be discharged shortly from Hadassah Medical Center-Ein Kerem in Jerusalem, according to a hospital spokesperson.

The premier is reported to be in excellent condition after having undergone a successful hernia operation on Sunday night. He came out of the anesthesia as expected and feels well.

As he prepared for his discharge, Netanyahu thanked the medical and nursing staff at Hadassah for their dedicated care.

“The prime minister’s condition is excellent, and we are discharging him in a state in which he is fully capable of continuing with his work,” says Prof. Alon Pikarsky, who headed the team that performed the surgery.

Fitch Ratings removes Israel from rating watch negative as it assesses impact of Gaza war

This photo shows signage for Fitch Ratings, in New York, October 9, 2011. (Henny Ray Abrams/AP)
This photo shows signage for Fitch Ratings, in New York, October 9, 2011. (Henny Ray Abrams/AP)

Fitch Ratings removes Israel from rating watch negative and affirms the country’s A+ credit rating but with a negative outlook, as the agency is assessing the impact of the toll of the war with the Hamas terror group.

“Geopolitical risks associated with the war in Gaza remain elevated and escalation risks remain present, but Fitch believes the risks to the credit profile have broadened and their impact may take longer to assess,” Fitch says, citing the reasoning for removing the credit watch negative outlook.

Back in October, Fitch put Israel’s A+ credit score on rating watch negative due to the heightened risk of a major escalation in the war with Hamas, which it assessed could result in a negative rating action.

“Risks of a widening of Israel’s current conflict to include large-scale military confrontations with multiple actors – over a sustained period of time – remain high,” Fitch says in a statement.

“This is not our base case, but such large-scale escalation, in addition to human loss, could result in significant additional military spending, destruction of infrastructure, sustained change in consumer and investment sentiment, and thus lead to a large deterioration of Israel’s credit metrics.”

Israel’s negotiating team departs Cairo after drafting new hostage deal proposal

Demonstrators protest calling for the release of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, March 26, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Demonstrators protest calling for the release of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, March 26, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Israel’s negotiating team is on its way back from Cairo, the Prime Minister’s Office announces on behalf of the Mossad.

“During the negotiations, with the effective mediation of Egypt, the mediators put together an updated proposal for Hamas to address,” says the statement.

“Israel expects the mediators to act more forcefully against Hamas to move the negotiations forward toward a deal,” says the PMO.

The wording of the message, which praised Egypt and hinted that Qatar needs to do more, reflects frustration expressed to The Times of Israel by Israeli officials over Qatar’s unwillingness to press Hamas to move toward a compromise.

The mid-level negotiating team was made up of Mossad, Shin Bet, and IDF officials.

Cyprus to keep operating Gaza maritime corridor despite deaths of volunteers from partnering charity

Illustrative: The second vessel, left, with food aid from aid group World Central Kitchen prepares to depart for Gaza, at Larnaca port, Cyprus, March 16, 2024. (AP/Petros Karadjias)
Illustrative: The second vessel, left, with food aid from aid group World Central Kitchen prepares to depart for Gaza, at Larnaca port, Cyprus, March 16, 2024. (AP/Petros Karadjias)

Cyprus’s president urges an immediate investigation into the killing of seven aid workers in an airstrike in Gaza overnight, saying the US-based World Central Kitchen was a “crucial partner” in efforts to get aid to the enclave by sea.

“We need to double down on efforts to get aid to Gaza,” Nikos Christodoulides said, after a meeting with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola.

A strike hit a convoy carrying a World Central Kitchen team which had just unloaded more than 100 tons of food aid brought to Gaza by sea from Cyprus. Citizens from Australia, Poland and Britain were among the victims.

The charity said it was pausing operations in the region with immediate effect. WCK has been active in Gaza since October, bringing food by land routes and also participating in airdrops.

Last month, it launched an inaugural sea corridor transporting aid to the enclave from Cyprus. A second convoy of ships taking just over 300 tons of aid left Cyprus last weekend.

“The Amalthea initiative will continue as long as the humanitarian needs are there,” Christodoulides says, referring to the maritime route.

Iran’s Khamenei: Israel will be punished, made to regret Damascus strike

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says “Israel will be punished” for a strike widely attributed to Israel that killed seven members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including two generals, at an Iranian embassy annex in Damascus.

“The evil Zionist regime will be punished at the hands of our brave men. We will make them regret this crime and the other ones,” Khamenei says in a message published on his official website.

Hinting at Damascus strike, Gallant says Israel will act ‘everywhere, every day’ against enemies

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant attends a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, April 2, 2024. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant attends a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, April 2, 2024. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Hinting at a strike on Damascus yesterday, in which seven officials of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps including the top commander in Syria were killed, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says Israel’s goal is to “act everywhere, every day to prevent the force build-up of our enemies.”

“We are in a multi-front war, in the offense and defense. We see evidence of this every day, including in recent days,” he says at a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Gallant says Israel is also working “to make it clear to everyone who acts against us, all over the Middle East, that the price for acting against Israel will be a heavy price.”

Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says death toll passed 32,900

At least 32,916 Palestinians have been killed and 75,494 have been wounded in Gaza since October 7, the Hamas-run health ministry says.

The terror group’s figures are unverified, don’t differentiate between civilians and combatants, and list all the fatalities as caused by Israel — even those believed to have been caused by hundreds of misfired rockets or otherwise by Palestinian fire.

Israel has said it killed some 13,000 Hamas members in Gaza fighting, in addition to some 1,000 killed in Israel in the aftermath of the terror group’s October 7 invasion and onslaught.

UK’s Cameron says strike on aid workers in Gaza ‘deeply distressing,’ demands full investigation

Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron arrives at the annual Commonwealth Day Service of Celebration at Westminster Abbey, in London, Monday, March 11, 2024. (Geoff Pugh/Pool Photo via AP)
Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron arrives at the annual Commonwealth Day Service of Celebration at Westminster Abbey, in London, Monday, March 11, 2024. (Geoff Pugh/Pool Photo via AP)

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron calls the deadly strike on World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza “deeply distressing.”

“British Nationals are reported to have been killed, we are urgently working to verify this information and will provide full support to their families,” says Cameron on X.

“These were people who were working to deliver life-saving aid to those who desperately need it,” he continues. “It is essential that humanitarian workers are protected and able to carry out their work.”

The UK calls on Israel to “immediately investigate and provide a full, transparent explanation of what happened.”

Hagari: IDF has expressed ‘sincere sorrow’ to World Central Kitchen and our allies, will conduct transparent probe

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari delivers a press briefing following a deadly strike on World Central Kitchen volunteers in the Gaza Strip overnight, April 2, 2024. (Screenshot)
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari delivers a press briefing following a deadly strike on World Central Kitchen volunteers in the Gaza Strip overnight, April 2, 2024. (Screenshot)

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari in an English-language video statement says he spoke to the founder of World Central Kitchen to express his condolences following last night’s strike in the Gaza Strip that killed seven members of the aid organization.

“Last night, an incident took place in Gaza that resulted in the tragic death of World Central Kitchen employees as they fulfilled their vital mission of bringing food to people in need,” Hagari says.

“As a professional military committed to international law, we are committed to examining our operations thoroughly and transparently,” he continues.

“I just spoke to WCK founder Chef Jose Anders, and expressed the deepest condolences of the Israel Defense Forces to the families and the entire World Central Kitchen family,” he says.

Hagari says the IDF has expressed “sincere sorrow to our allied nations who have been doing and continue to do so much to assist those in need.”

“We have been reviewing the incident at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of what happened and how it happened,” he says.

Hagari says the IDF’s General Staff Fact-Finding Assessment Mechanism — an independent military body responsible for investigating unusual incidents amid the war — will probe what he called a “serious incident.”

“This will help us reduce the risk of such an event from occurring again,” he says.

“For the last few months, the IDF has been working closely with the World Central Kitchen to assist them in fulfilling their noble mission of helping bring food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. WCK also came to help Israelis after the massacre of October 7th; they were one of the first NGOs here,” Hagari continues.

“The work of WCK is critical; they are on the frontlines of humanity,” he says.

“We will get to the bottom of this and we will share our findings transparently,” Hagari adds.

Drone strikes open area in Jordan, 200 meters from border with Israel

A drone of unknown origin struck an open area in Jordan, close to the Israeli border near Ramon Airport, authorities say.

A spokesperson for the Eilat Municipality says the drone struck an area around 200 meters from the border. The Israel Airports Authority says there was no strike at Ramon Airport itself.

The IDF has not yet commented on the incident.

The incident comes amid several drone attacks by an Iran-backed militia in Syria. Early Monday, a drone launched from Iraq struck an Israeli Navy base in Eilat, causing damage.

EU’s top diplomat condemns strike on Gaza aid workers, calls for investigation

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell condemns the reported Israeli strike that killed seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen in Gaza overnight, and calls for an inquiry.

“I condemn the attack and urge an investigation. Despite all the demands to protect civilians and humanitarian workers, we see new innocent casualties,” Borrell writes on X, adding that the incident further strengthens the need for an immediate ceasefire.

Footage of wrecked World Central Kitchen vehicle indicates it was hit from the air

People gather around the wreckage of a car used by US-based aid group World Central Kitchen, that was hit by a strike in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on April 2, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
People gather around the wreckage of a car used by US-based aid group World Central Kitchen, that was hit by a strike in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on April 2, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Palestinian media publishes footage showing what it says are the two World Central Kitchen vehicles hit by alleged Israeli fire overnight in the central Gaza Strip.

The video shows one car, with the WCK logo, with a damaged roof, indicating it was hit from the air.

A second car seen in the video is burnt out.

Seven aid workers with WCK, including several foreign nationals, were killed in the incident.

The IDF says it is “carrying out an in-depth examination at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident.”

Poland condemns ‘disregard for international humanitarian law’ after Polish volunteer killed in strike on aid group

Poland’s foreign ministry expresses condolences to the family of a Polish volunteer who was killed in Gaza while working for celebrity chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen aid agency.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family of the volunteer who was providing aid to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip,” the ministry says in a post on social media platform X.

“Poland objects to the disregard for international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians, including humanitarian workers.”

The aid organization has said seven workers were killed in a strike late last night while unloading humanitarian aid in central Gaza and has suspended operations in the Palestinian enclave until further notice.

The IDF has not said whether it was responsible for the strike, but said it is carrying out an “in-depth examination” into the “tragic incident.”

 

Released hostage Maya Regev: Every female captive in Gaza has experienced some form of sexual harassment

Released hostage Maya Regev speaks to the  Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality at the Knesset in Jerusalem on April 2, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Released hostage Maya Regev speaks to the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality at the Knesset in Jerusalem on April 2, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Speaking to the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, released hostage Maya Regev warns that every female captive in Gaza “goes through sexual harassment in some form or another.”

“On October 7, I didn’t understand why they didn’t come to save me and all the other women who were there,” she tells the committee in an appeal for the government to act with urgency to secure the release of the 130 hostages still in captivity, 19 of whom are women.

“I was released after 50 days and I’m dealing with the impact; I don’t want to describe what they’re going through there,” she adds.

Criticizing the government for going ahead with a scheduled six-week Knesset recess despite the war in Gaza, Regev says that if she could, she would rescue the hostages herself, “but that’s the job of the country that let us down, and you’re still going on vacation.”

Israel didn’t give US answers it was seeking on Rafah operation during video conference, source says

After the video conference yesterday between senior Israeli and US officials over an IDF operation in Rafah, a source close to the meeting says that “Israel has to give actual answers now.”

“The US didn’t get answers,” says the source.

According to the joint statement released after the meeting, the US “expressed its concerns with various courses of action in Rafah,” and the Israelis, led by Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, “agreed to take these concerns into account and to have follow up discussions between experts.”

The participants could meet in Washington as early as next week.

Spain will recognize an independent Palestinian state by July, PM tells press

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks to the press before a European Council summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on March 21, 2024. (John Thys/AFP)
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks to the press before a European Council summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on March 21, 2024. (John Thys/AFP)

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tells journalists that he will recognize a Palestinian state by July, Spanish media reports.

Speaking to members of the press accompanying him on his trip to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, Sánchez says the recognition will come before the summer. He also says he will try to convince Arab countries that haven’t recognized Israel to do so, according to El Pais.

Spain is trying to get other EU countries on board, including Slovenia and Ireland. The three nations plus Malta issued a joint declaration two weeks ago on their readiness to recognize a Palestinian state when “the circumstances are appropriate.”

Spain believes that other European countries will follow suit, reports El Pais, and that there will be a window for recognition between the end of fighting in Gaza and US elections in November, when Donald Trump could return to office.

Iran’s Raisi: ‘Cowardly’ attack on embassy in Damascus will not go unanswered

File: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi waves to the crowd during the funeral ceremony of the victims of a bomb explosion in the city of Kerman about 510 miles (820 kilometers) southeast of the capital Tehran, Iran, January 5, 2024. (AP Photo/ Vahid Salemi)
File: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi waves to the crowd during the funeral ceremony of the victims of a bomb explosion in the city of Kerman about 510 miles (820 kilometers) southeast of the capital Tehran, Iran, January 5, 2024. (AP Photo/ Vahid Salemi)

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi condemns Israel for allegedly being behind the attack on his country’s consular annex in Damascus, Syria, yesterday, saying the “cowardly crime will not go unanswered.”

“After repeated defeats and failures against the faith and will of the Resistance Front fighters, the Zionist regime has put blind assassinations on its agenda in the struggle to save itself,” Raisi says on his office’s website.

Seven members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including the top Iranian commander in Syria, were killed in the strike on the building next to Iran’s Damascus embassy.

Though Israel has not commented on the strike, The New York Times cited four unnamed Israeli officials as confirming the country was behind the attack.

Health and defense ministries establish committee to improve mental health support for war-wounded, bereaved families

The Health Ministry and Defense Ministry appoint a joint committee to work on better meeting the mental health needs of the war-wounded and bereaved families.

The committee will work to improve the availability and quality of mental healthcare services, including hospitalization when needed, through better cooperation between the defense establishment and the civilian system.

According to government statistics, 6,800 wounded military personnel have been treated by the rehabilitation arm of the Defense Ministry since October 7, with 21 percent of them suffering from mental health injuries. These individuals join the 11,000 war veterans dealing with mental health problems because of previous conflicts, including 8,000 with post-traumatic stress disorder.

IDF says fighter jets struck weapons depots across Gaza Strip as fighting continues in Khan Younis

IDF soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip in this undated handout photo published April 2, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip in this undated handout photo published April 2, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF says fighter jets struck more than 25 targets in the Gaza Strip over the past day, including weapon depots.

The strikes come as fighting continues in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis.

The IDF says troops of the Commando Brigade killed several gunmen in Khan Younis, including with sniper fire, over the past day.

In the Khan Younis suburb of al-Qarara, the IDF says the 7th Armored Brigade killed several more cells of terror operatives, including by calling in airstrikes.

World Central Kitchen suspends operations in Gaza after deadly strike

The World Central Kitchen organization says it is immediately suspending its work in the Gaza Strip following the deadly strike it says killed seven of its workers late last night.

“World Central Kitchen is pausing our operations immediately in the region. We will be making decisions about the future of our work soon,” says CEO Erin Gore.

World Central Kitchen confirms seven workers killed in Gaza strike

World Central Kitchen confirms that seven of its workers were killed in a strike on their vehicle in central Gaza late last night after they helped deliver food and other supplies to northern Gaza that had arrived hours earlier.

In a statement, the WCK says its staff was “traveling in a deconflicted zone in two armored cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle.”

The organization says that it was hit “despite coordinating movements with the IDF.”

“This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable,” says World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore.

The IDF has said it is “carrying out an in-depth examination at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident,” but did not say whether it was responsible for the strike.

Anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian discrimination in the US reached record high in 2023

Reported discrimination and attacks against Muslims and Palestinians reached a record high in the US in 2023, driven by rising Islamophobia and bias as the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza raged late in the year, data from an advocacy group shows.

Complaints totaled 8,061 in 2023, a 56% rise from the year before and the highest since the Council on American-Islamic Relations began records nearly 30 years ago. About 3,600 of those incidents occurred from October to December, CAIR says.

Human rights advocates have similarly reported a global rise in Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian bias and antisemitism since the October 7 Hamas terror onslaught in southern Israel and subsequent war in the Gaza Strip.

US incidents have included the fatal October stabbing of 6-year-old Palestinian American Wadea Al-Fayoume in Illinois, the November shooting of three students of Palestinian descent in Vermont and the February stabbing of a Palestinian American man in Texas.

CAIR’s report says 2023 saw a “resurgence of anti-Muslim hate” after the first-ever recorded annual drop in complaints in 2022. In the first nine months of 2023, such incidents averaged around 500 a month before jumping to nearly 1,200 a month in the last quarter.

“The primary force behind this wave of heightened Islamophobia was the escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine in October 2023,” the report says.

The most numerous complaints in 2023 were in the categories of immigration and asylum, employment discrimination, hate crimes and education discrimination, CAIR says.

Australia confirms death of aid worker in Gaza, demands accountability from Israel

Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirms that aid worker Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom has been killed in an air strike in Gaza and demands accountability for her death.

White House’s Sullivan to travel to Saudi Arabia for talks with crown prince

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan plans to travel to Saudi Arabia this week for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman amid a US push for progress toward normalizing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Talks on normalization had been put on ice in the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on southern Israel and Israel’s subsequent assault on Hamas-ruled Gaza, but conversations have resumed in recent months.

A US official says Sullivan plans talks with the crown prince to check in on the issue but does not expect a major breakthrough.

A second US official says Sullivan will consult broadly on a number of matters.

“He has not been to Saudi Arabia in some time and there’s lots to discuss,” the second official says.

US urges swift probe of alleged IDF strike that killed 4 foreign aid workers

A man holds up the blood-stained passports of three foreign aid workers killed in an alleged Israeli strike in Gaza on the night of April 1, 2024 (Video screenshot/X)
A man holds up the blood-stained passports of three foreign aid workers killed in an alleged Israeli strike in Gaza on the night of April 1, 2024 (Video screenshot/X)

The US calls on Israel to swiftly probe the reported IDF strike that killed at least four foreign aid workers in central Gaza earlier tonight.

White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson says in a statement that the US is “heartbroken and deeply troubled” by the incident in which World Central Kitchen staffers were killed.

“Humanitarian aid workers must be protected as they deliver aid that is desperately needed,” Watson says.

The US has for months urged Israel to put in place better deconfliction measures.

Clip shows a sometimes-agitated Netanyahu practicing for press conference

Channel 13 news on Monday aired what it said was an clip accidentally transmitted to it of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu practicing for his press conference held on Sunday night.

The network said Netanyahu held the rehearsal of his statement shortly before the media was invited in, and that it appeared to have accidentally reached their feed.

In the video aired by the network, Netanyahu moves through the first lines of his speech, stopping repeatedly to ask questions and give out instructions to aides about the state of the room, the air conditioning, the sound system, word-choices in the text of his speech on the prompter and more.

At times the premier seems agitated and impatient as he reviews the best way to open his speech.

“Wow, what’s that distance, are you crazy?” he says as he walks in. It’s not clear what he’s referring to, though it may be the teleprompter. “Move closer, what is this.”

“Close the door, shut down the AC immediately,” he says.

“They’ll hear it won’t they? They’ll hear it,” he asks people off-camera, possibly referring to members of the media waiting outside.

“How’s the picture?” he wonders at one point.

Starting his preparation, the premier reads “Citizens of Israel, good evening,” before stopping and asking: “Why good evening? Well, never mind.” He then tries the line out in a few ways before appearing to be satisfied.

He goes on to praise the IDF’s weeks-long operation against terror operatives at Shifa Hospital in Gaza, before stopping to ask the prompter operator why the word “exemplary” is not in the text. Apparently losing patience, he moves on, adlibbing that “the operation was exemplary.”

“This is not what a medical center looks like,” he then declares, before repeating the line, but this time adopting a more derisive tone. “This is not what a medical center looks like. This is what a terrorist center looks like.”

The recording stops there.

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