Biden Reprimands Netanyahu for Killing Humanitarian Workers

joe biden speaks with Netanyahu

Following Israel’s killing of seven humanitarian aid workers in Gaza, President Joe Biden warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate actions” regarding U.S. demands for Israel to take concrete steps to address the humanitarian crisis in the besieged region. 

According to a White House readout of a Thursday phone call between Biden and Netanyahu, the president “emphasized that the strikes on humanitarian workers and the overall humanitarian situation are unacceptable.”

“He 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. He made clear that U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps,” the readout continued, adding that Biden “underscored that an immediate ceasefire is essential to stabilize and improve the humanitarian situation and protect innocent civilians, and he urged the Prime Minister to empower his negotiators to conclude a deal without delay to bring the hostages home.”

The call, which lasted over 30 minutes, was “tense and challenging,” a source familiar told Axios.

The call is the closest Biden has come to placing conditions on U.S. military aid to Israel, which has been bombarding Gaza since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7. The U.S. has done little to temper Israel’s onslaught on the region, which has led to tens of thousands of deaths and imminent famine conditions through the restriction of aid shipments. 

While Biden stated earlier this week that he was “outraged and heartbroken” over the deaths of the aid workers — all of whom were working with the humanitarian aid group World Central Kitchen (WCK) and one of whom was an American citizen — his administration has been sharply criticized for not backing up his condemnation of the killings with actionable policy. 

On April 1, the day of the killings, three vehicles marked with WCK logos and carrying organization staffers were targeted by multiple Israeli Defense Force airstrikes. That same day, the Biden administration approved the sale of thousands more bombs and munitions to the Israeli military. 

On Thursday, WCK called for an independent investigation into the airstrikes, writing in a statement that Isreald characterization of the attacks as “‘a tragic event in which our forces unintentionally harmed non-combatants,’ and something that ‘happens in war,’” was insufficient justification for the targeting of a humanitarian mission that had cleared its presence in Gaza with the Israeli government. 


“We have asked the governments of Australia, Canada, the United States of America, Poland, and the United Kingdom to join us in demanding an independent, third-party investigation into these attacks, including whether they were carried out intentionally or otherwise violated international law,” the group wrote.   

President Biden and his administration have not addressed whether his administration will seek to support World Central Kitchen’s request for an independent investigation into the incident. 

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