IDF cancels leave after Iran threats; World Central Kitchen demands independent probe into Gaza aid convoy strikes

April 4, 2024

Jewish group launches Holocaust survivor speakers bureau to fight increasing antisemitism worldwide

More than 250 Holocaust survivors have joined an international initiative to share their stories of loss and survival with students around the world during a a time of rising antisemitism following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that triggered the war in the Gaza Strip.

The Survivor Speakers Bureau was launched today by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also referred to as the Claims Conference. The speakers bureau connects Holocaust survivors with students both virtually and in person.

“A Holocaust survivor speakers bureau of this scale and reach is unprecedented,” said Gideon Taylor, president of the Claims Conference. “At a moment of dramatically rising antisemitism, this program tells the history and educates for the future.”

Six million European Jews and people from other minorities were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust.

Gaza death toll tops 33,000, Health Ministry says

The death toll in the Gaza Strip since the Israel-Hamas war began has now passed 33,000, the enclave’s Health Ministry said this morning.

Some 75,668 people in Gaza have been injured, it said.

Israel’s explanation for aid worker deaths ‘not good enough,’ Australia says

Israel’s explanation for the deaths of seven aid workers in Gaza, including one Australian, is “not good enough,” the Australian prime minister has said.

The U.S., Australia and others have condemned Israel over the strikes, which killed Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom and six other people working for the U.S.-based charity World Central Kitchen as they were traveling in a convoy after delivering food aid.

“We need to have accountability for how it has occurred, and what is not good enough is the statements that have been made, including that this is ‘just a product of war,’” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters in Sydney today.

Albanese has demanded “full accountability” from Israel, including in a call with Netanyahu yesterday.

Israeli military halts leave for all combat units amid Iranian threats

The Israeli military has this morning canceled leave for all combat units, a move that comes amid fears of an escalation with Iran after this week’s attack on Tehran’s consulate in Syria killed a number of senior military commanders.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that: “In accordance with the situational assessment, it has been decided that leave will be temporarily paused for all IDF combat units. The IDF is at war and the deployment of forces is under continuous assessment according to requirements.”

The IDF said yesterday that it had drafted reservists to boost the country’s aerial defenses, and Israeli media has reported that GPS services have been disrupted in Tel Aviv, an apparent effort to ward off possible guided missile attacks.

Palestinians look at the damage to WCK vehicles in Gaza

A Palestinian boy peers through the wreckage of a vehicle belonging to the World Central Kitchen convoy after it was struck in Deir el-Balah.

Israel on Tuesday assumed responsibility for the killing of seven workers of international food charity World Central Kitchen WCK during an overnight airstrike in the Gaza Strip and expressed "sincere sorrow.
Yasser Qudih / Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

World Central Kitchen calls for independent probe into aid convoy strikes

The World Central Kitchen aid group called today for the governments of Australia, Canada, the United States, Poland, and Britain to launch an independent investigation into the Israeli strikes that killed seven of its workers in Gaza.

The probe should examine “whether they were carried out intentionally or otherwise violated international law,” the relief organization said in a statement.

“The aid workers killed were nationals of Australia, U.S./Canada dual citizen, Gaza, Poland, and the United Kingdom,” the statement said. It added that the group had “asked the Israeli government to immediately preserve all documents, communications, video and/or audio recordings, and any other materials potentially relevant to the April 1 strikes.”

“An independent investigation is the only way to determine the truth of what happened, ensure transparency and accountability for those responsible, and prevent future attacks on humanitarian aid workers,” World Central Kitchen said.

Israeli officials have said they are investigating the strikes, saying that a misidentification was to blame.

José Andrés says his aid workers were targeted ‘systematically, car by car’

José Andrés has insisted on an investigation by the U.S government into the Israeli strike that killed seven people working with his aid organization in Gaza, saying they were targeted “systematically, car by car.”

Israeli officials have opened an investigation into the strikes on three World Central Kitchen vehicles, saying that a misidentification led to the attack. Andrés rejected the assertion in an interview with Reuters, saying his teams worked in close coordination with Israel Defense Forces and were hit in a military-controlled deconflicted zone.

“This was over a 1.5, 1.8 kilometers, with a very defined humanitarian convoy that had signs in the top, in the roof, a very colorful logo that we are obviously very proud of,” Andrés said.

He also added that it was “very clear who we are and what we do.”

Andrés said that investigations should be launched by the home countries of each of the six foreign aid workers killed, which includes the United States and the United Kingdom.

Biden and Netanyahu to hold first call since Israeli strike killed World Central Kitchen workers

WASHINGTON — Biden and Netanyahu are expected to speak by phone today, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the call.

It will be their first direct communication since the seven aid workers were killed by an Israeli strike in Gaza this week.

The discussion comes after Biden on Tuesday delivered some of his strongest criticism of Israel since the start of its war with Hamas, saying that he was “outraged and heartbroken” by the deaths of the World Central Kitchen humanitarian workers.

“Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians,” he said in his statement.

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