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Israel: Attack in ‘serious violation’ of commands

April 5, 2024
Photo: Abdel Kareem Hana/AP via CNN Newsource

(CNN) — Israel’s military has fired two senior officers after concluding Monday’s attack that killed seven food aid workers in Gaza was in “serious violation” of its commands.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said Friday that “those who approved the strike were convinced that they were targeting armed Hamas operatives,” calling the attack “a grave mistake stemming from a serious failure due to a mistaken identification.”

The report said the strike was carried out in “serious violation of the commands and IDF Standard Operating Procedures.” In addition to the two dismissed officers, other IDF officials were formally reprimanded.

Seven aid workers – three Britons, a Palestinian, a US-Canadian dual citizen, an Australian and a Pole – were killed in Monday’s strikes on cars operated by the World Central Kitchen (WCK), setting off fury in those countries.

The IDF said in its preliminary findings on Friday that its forces “identified a gunman on one of the aid trucks, following which they identified an additional gunman,” as the trucks transported food to a warehouse in Gaza. It did not provide any more details about that claim.

Later, as three WCK vehicles left the warehouse, a commander “mistakenly assumed that the gunmen were located inside the accompanying vehicles and that these were Hamas terrorists,” the report said.

WCK and the heads of many Western nations have called for an independent, third party investigation into the strikes, but Israel has committed only to the internal inquiry released Friday.

Though it included a rare admission of guilt from the Israeli military, the IDF’s Friday statement was brief and lacked a detailed explanation of precisely how and why its commands were violated.

It is unlikely to be the final word on a fatal attack that has hardened the ire of Western countries towards Israel’s conduct in Gaza, and accelerated debates in several nations about whether military aid to Israel should be halted.

“The IDF cannot credibly investigate its own failure in Gaza,” WCK said Friday in response to the preliminary findings. “Without systemic change, there will be more military failures, more apologies and more grieving families.

The charity said it is “clear from their preliminary investigation that the IDF has deployed deadly force without regard to its own protocols, chain of command and rules of engagement.”

“Their apologies for the outrageous killing of our colleagues represent cold comfort,” WCK CEO Erin Gore said. “It’s cold comfort for the victims’ families and WCK’s global family.”

US President Joe Biden called the deaths of aid workers and the overall humanitarian situation in Gaza “unacceptable” in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, adding that US support would depend on “measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers.”

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