Aid workers killed in Gaza: what will the reactions be?

Following the death of seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen charity in the Gaza Strip, Israel’s government has admitted mistakes and said it has launched a comprehensive investigation into the incident. The founder of the aid organisation has described it as a targeted attack on a clearly marked vehicle. International allies, including the US and Poland, have also voiced harsh criticism.

La Repubblica (IT) /

Why Israel has admitted to this mistake

In a move almost without precedent in the 76 years of its existence, Israel has admitted to committing a serious mistake, La Repubblica notes, and looks at the reasons:

“The first is that six of the seven victims are foreigners. ... This could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back if the West distances itself from the Israeli operation in Gaza. The second is that the incident may provide further evidence for the war crimes charges before the International Criminal Court. ... The third reason is that Israel needs the World Central Kitchen: the NGO responded to the incident by suspending its humanitarian activities in Gaza, increasing the risk of famine, a catastrophe for which the UN holds Israel’s government responsible.”

Enrico Franceschini
Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Deliberate or an accident?

Israel must immediately clarify how this could happen, Dagens Nyheter demands:

“Medical personnel and aid workers become victims in all wars, but there is a huge difference between when it happens unintentionally and when people are deliberately targeted. The latter is something we associate with the Russian military tactics we have seen in Syria and Ukraine. ... Israel must get to the bottom of what happened, and if the attack was deliberate, those responsible must be court-martialled. Otherwise the military leadership would be giving its blessing to a direct war crime, even if only after the fact.”

Isobel Hadley-Kamptz
Avvenire (IT) /

Protection of civilians not a priority

Admitting mistakes won’t bring the dead back to life, Avvenire complains:

“No one doubts that it was a tragic accident — as the government has admitted — but that doesn’t change the fact that the shooting of unarmed and identifiable aid workers is the result of rules of engagement that are not geared towards protecting the civilian population. ... A number of Jewish hostages have been killed in recent months, and dozens or hundreds of residents, mostly women and children, are caught up in the clashes every day. The local health authorities talk of 33,000 victims as of yesterday, so 1.5 percent of the total population.”

Andrea Lavazza
The Spectator (GB) /

War is hell

Western politicians are hypocritical in pointing the moral finger at Israel, The Spectator comments:

“You would think a former PM who was involved in wars in which other accidents happened would understand that ‘friendly fire’, sadly, is all but inevitable in bloody conflict. ... It isn’t only Cameron. US president Joe Biden has also weighed in, saying he is ‘outraged’ by the killing of the aid workers. You can’t help but wonder whether he directed similar outrage at his own nation’s military when 37 Afghanis at a wedding party, mostly women and children, were killed by mistake in a US airstrike [in 2012]. ... Terrible accidents happen in war. That’s because war is hell.”

Brendan O’Neill
Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Netanyahu turning his back on the West

Rzeczpospolita is disappointed by Israel’s reaction to the death of a Polish aid worker:

“True reflection by Netanyahu and the ultra-nationalists in his government is highly unlikely. This is clear from the initial reactions of the prime minister and his diplomats — no sympathy, no apologies, simply the statement that these things happen in wars. And so — by implication — they will continue to happen. And anyone who refuses to accept this and criticises Israel is an antisemite. ... Netanyahu’s government has distanced itself from reality, at least from the reality of the Western world. ... It claims that it is fighting for Western values. But these are less and less recognisable in Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel.”

Jerzy Haszczyński