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


US 'outraged' by Israeli airstrike on international team of aid workers: Day 179 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

Nearly 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the Gazan health ministry.

International condemnation after seven foreign workers of the NGO World Central Kitchen were killed in Gaza.

Iran promises "a decisive response" to the Israeli strike on the Iranian embassy in Damascus.

21:57 Beirut Time

We're closing today's live coverage of the Gaza war and it's impact on the region, notably in Lebanon, Syria, and the Red Sea. Thanks for joining us, and we'll be back tomorrow with more news updates and analysis. Goodnight!

21:57 Beirut Time

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees has described the "huge challenge" that lays ahead to "reverse a man-made famine" in Gaza.

Writing on X, UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini called for a "complete reversal in policies from the Israeli government" following the killing of seven aid workers yesterday in Gaza, and following the army having denied UNRWA access to northern Gaza today, refusing its request to join aid convoys to al-Shifa Hospital. Images have emerged showing the hospital, burnt out, flattened in places, and generally in ruins after Israeli troops withdrew from a two week raid on the site, where they claimed Hamas fighters were hiding.

Last Friday, the US State Department said that famine is already likely present in at least some areas of northern Gaza, while other areas are in danger of falling into conditions of starvation, according to a report in The Guardian. On the same day, the International Court of Justice, the world’s top court, ordered Israel to admit food aid into the territory.

21:41 Beirut Time

The World Central Kitchen, which lost seven of its aid workers when the Israeli army targeted  their convoy in central Gaza last night, is a relatively new provider of aid in Gaza. The nonprofit organization, founded in 2010 by celebrity chef Jose Andres, says it operates 68 “community kitchens” in Gaza, and has sent in more than 1,700 trucks loaded with food and cooking equipment over the last six months of war, according to a New York Times report.

WCK has garnered some attention for its work in the besieged coastal enclave, having made bold moves in its strategies for delivering food. In March, it became the first entity to deliver aid by sea to the enclave in nearly two decades by building a makeshift jetty fashioned out of rubble. The aid workers who were killed today were returning from an aid warehouse where they had just finished unloading another 100 tonnes of food supplies delivered to Gaza by sea.

The WCK is also credited with delivering food into northern Gaza, the most heavily destroyed area where some of the Strip's most desperate populations remain.

Today was filled with international condemnation against Israel for their killing of the WCK team. Many countries are calling for an investigation and for "full accountability," although it's unclear what either will look like.

👉 Read more about the world's response here.

21:24 Beirut Time

The United States, Israel's most important ally, is "outraged" over the Israeli strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza last night.

"We were outraged to learn of an [Israeli army] strike that killed a number of civilian humanitarian workers yesterday from the World Central Kitchen," White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters, cited by Reuters.

At the latest media briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said US President Joe Biden sends his “deepest condolences” over those killed and he is “grieving with the entire World Central Kitchen” team.

World Central Kitchen was founded in 2010 by celebrity chef Jose Andres, who Biden called directly, following the attack.

Biden told Andres he was "heartbroken" and "conveyed he will make clear to Israel that humanitarian aid workers must be protected," Jean-Pierre said.

21:00 Beirut Time

Here's an update on the latest Hezbollah attacks on northern Israel:

• In response to the attack in Yarin, Sour district, that injured a woman, Hezbollah targeted the Israeli town of Gishra Haziv, situated in the Western Galilee on the coastal highway between Nahariya and the Lebanese border, with a barrage of Katyusha rockets at 7:35 p.m.

• The Israeli army reported that 10 missiles were launched toward northern Israel, and some were intercepted, cited by Haaretz.

• The party also targeted the Israeli "Rwaisat al-Alam" site in Kfar Shuba at 6:15 p.m. Haaretz reported around this time that sirens were activated in northern Israel.

• Hezbollah targeted the Israeli "Sumaka" site in the disputed hills of Kfar Shuba at 5:15 PM.

• A security source told L'Orient Today that six missiles had been fired from southern Lebanon toward the Kfar Shuba hills.

20:59 Beirut Time

Here are the latest updates from southern Lebanon:

• An Israeli drone targeted the town of Yarin, in Sour district, as reported by a security source to L'Orient Today. Aliyah Abdul Karim, a resident of the town of Bustan, was injured while visiting the graves of her relatives in the Yarin cemetery before Eid al-Fitr, according to a family member interviewed by L'Orient Today.

• Locals reported that Israeli artillery shelling targeted the town of Ramieh, in Bint Jbeil district.

19:20 Beirut Time

Anera, an aid organization for refugees in Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon says it is suspending its operation in Gaza — the second largest humanitarian operation after UNRWA — following yesterday’s Israeli attack on World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers as they drove along a “de-conflicted” road in central Gaza.

“The killing of WCK humanitarians, occurring less than a month after the still-unexplained killing of Anera staff member Mousa Shawwa, alongside the loss of numerous other aid workers and their families, has led our team to conclude that delivering aid safely is no longer feasible,” Anera said in a statement.

“The ongoing targeting of humanitarian workers and the lack of adequate safety measures demand a thorough investigation and immediate action. Israel bears the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the unhindered delivery of urgent humanitarian assistance and basic services to those in need,” it said.

18:52 Beirut Time

The UN's agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, says it is recording the "highest number of aid workers killed in any conflict."

It has announced that 176 of its staff have been killed since the start of the war in Gaza, several in the line of duty.

“Humanitarian workers are #NotATarget and must be protected at all times,” the agency wrote in a statement on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, has said in a news conference in Paris with his French counterpart that Washington “has worked to impress upon Israel the moral, strategic, and legal imperative to provide humanitarian assistance to the people who need it.” But, Antony Blinken added, “it is simply insufficient. It is not enough to meet the needs of the children, women, and men.”

18:09 Beirut Time

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned Israel's strike which killed seven members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) at its consulate in Damascus, Syria, yesterday.

"The UN chief reaffirms the necessity to uphold the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises and personnel as per international law" according to a statement shared by his spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric.

Additionally, the spokesperson urged for caution and restraint, warning that "any misstep could escalate tensions in an already volatile region, leading to dire consequences for civilians who are already enduring significant suffering in Syria, Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and the wider Middle East."

17:12 Beirut Time

Israeli negotiators are on their way back from Cairo having left behind a new draft proposal for Hamas to read, regarding the Gaza truce and hostage exchange, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.

“During the negotiations, with the effective mediation of Egypt, the mediators put together an updated proposal for Hamas to address,” says the statement, cited by Times of Israel. “Israel expects the mediators to act more forcefully against Hamas to move the negotiations forward toward a deal.”

The wording of the message, which praised Egypt and hinted that Qatar’s approach is too lax, reflects frustration expressed to Times of Israel by Israeli officials who accuse Qatar of being unwilling to pressure Hamas to move toward a compromise that favors Israel’s demands.

👉 Read the full report here.

16:24 Beirut Time

Lebanese Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri sent messages to Iranian leaders condemning the Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on Monday that killed commanders and members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, NNA reports.

Berri wrote to Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei, President Ebrahim Raisi, and Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.

"In my own name and on behalf of the Parliament, we condemn and denounce the cowardly Israeli aggression that targeted the Islamic Republic of Iran’s consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus," the letters say, as cited by NNA.

Berri also extended his condolences to the families of the victims and the Iranian people.

15:35 Beirut Time

We are in a multi-front war, in the offense and defense,” said Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant at a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, reports The Times of Israel.

We will “act everywhere, every day to prevent the force build-up of our enemies,” he said.

Israel’s goal is to “make it clear to anyone who threatens us – all over the Middle East – that the price for such action will be a big one,” Gallant added.

15:33 Beirut Time

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that seven staff members of the American NGO World Central Kitchen killed in Gaza were killed by an "unintentional" Israeli strike.

"Unfortunately yesterday (Monday) there was a tragic incident, our forces unintentionally struck innocent people in the Gaza Strip. We are in contact with the governments and will do everything to ensure that this never happens again," he said from the hospital where he underwent a hernia operation on Sunday evening.

15:33 Beirut Time

The death toll from the strikes blamed on Israel that destroyed the Iranian consulate in Damascus on Monday has risen to 13, including seven members of the IRGC, according to state television in Teheran, quoted by AFP.

"In the attack perpetrated by the Zionist regime against the Iranian embassy consulate in the Syrian capital, seven Iranians and six Syrians were killed," the television said. An earlier report put the death toll at 11.

Earlier, Hezbollah announced the death of one of its members in the strike.

13:50 Beirut Time

Damage in the area around Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital after the Israeli army's withdrawal on April 1, 2024 (Credit: AFP)

13:25 Beirut Time

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned on Tuesday that Israel would be "punished" for an airstrike the previous day in Damascus that killed 11 people, including seven Revolutionary Guards, and destroyed the building housing the consulate and residence of the Iranian ambassador, AFP reports.

"The perverted Zionist regime will be punished by our brave men; we will make it regret this and other crimes," stated the Iranian head of state in a statement, offering his condolences to the victims' relatives.

13:21 Beirut Time

Israel has launched talks with the United States and three Arab countries to set up a multinational military force with troops from Arab countries in Gaza, according to two senior Israeli officials quoted by the Axios news site.

The subject was put on the table during Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant's visit to Washington last week, and would initially be aimed at improving law and order in Gaza and escorting the distribution of humanitarian assistance.

12:40 Beirut Time

32,916 Palestinians have been killed and 75,494 wounded in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, quoted by Reuters.

12:32 Beirut Time

The Israeli army has expressed its "deepest condolences" after seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen were killed in an Israeli air strike. Its spokesperson, Daniel Hagari, said the "highest levels" have been reviewing how and what happened, and will be opening a probe.

Hagari added that the incident will be investigated by "an independent, professional, and expert body."

The strike has been met with international condemnation among world leaders and aid groups.

11:56 Beirut Time

Lebanon's Ministry of Foreign Affairs "strongly condemned" the attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus yesterday, widely attributed to Israel, and said that "targeting diplomatic headquarters and missions is a violation of international law."

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates strongly condemns the Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate building in Damascus and emphasizes that targeting diplomatic headquarters and missions is a violation of international law and a serious violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, which guarantees the immunity and inviolability of diplomatic premises," reads the Lebanese foreign ministry's statement published on X.

"This dangerous escalation in violation of international laws and norms inevitably threatens regional and international peace and security," the ministry added.

11:38 Beirut Time

(Credit: Hezbollah Media Office)

Hezbollah announced the death of one of its members: Hassan Youssef born in 1986 and from Khiam (Marjayoun). Youssef was killed in the Israeli airstrikes on the Iranian embassy's consular annex in Damascus, killing a top commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force and six other members of the IRGC.

266 Hezbollah members have been killed in Lebanon and Syria since the beginning of hostilities between Israel and the party on Oct. 8

11:25 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced it targeted a group of Israeli soldiers in Malikia, facing the Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab, with artillery shells last night at 1:25 a.m. and with rockets this morning at 5:45 a.m.

11:23 Beirut Time

The EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, condemned the killing of World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza and called for a probe into the strike that the NGO attributed to Israel, AFP reported.

"I condemn the attack and urge an investigation. Despite all the demands to protect civilians and humanitarian workers, we see new innocent casualties," Borrell said in a post on X. 

11:14 Beirut Time

China said it was "shocked" by the strike in Gaza the previous day that killed seven aid workers from the American NGO World Central Kitchen and which the latter blamed on Israeli forces, reports AFP.

Beijing "opposes any action that harms civilians, destroys civilian infrastructure or violates international law," said Chinese diplomatic spokesman Wang Wenbin. "We are shocked by the attack" in Gaza "and condemn it," he said.

11:02 Beirut Time

The global NGO World Central Kitchen announced that it was immediately suspending its operations in Gaza and the region after seven of its aid workers were killed in what the organization said was an Israeli strike.

The announcement marks a major setback for aid deliveries to Gaza where aid is only trickling in and famine looms heavily throughout the besieged enclave.

10:58 Beirut Time

Iranian President Ebrahim Raissi said the strikes blamed on Israel for killing seven members of the Revolutionary Guards in Damascus the previous day "will not go unanswered," reports AFP.

"Day after day, we witness the strengthening of the resistance front and the disgust and hatred of free nations against the illegitimate nature" of Israel, "and this cowardly crime will not go unanswered," said the Iranian president, condemning an "inhuman, aggressive and despicable act of invasion as a flagrant violation of international regulations."

10:57 Beirut Time

Iran announced that it has sent "an important message" to the United States following the Israeli strikes that killed seven members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, including two commanders, in Damascus on Monday.

The message, the content of which was not disclosed, was sent to "an official of the Swiss embassy," which represents US interests in Iran, during a summons to the foreign ministry, said diplomatic chief Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

"During this convocation, the terrorist dimension of the attack and the crime of the Israeli regime was explained, and the responsibility of the American government was emphasized," he added on X. "An important message was sent to the American government as a supporter of the Zionist regime. America must be held accountable," he added.

09:19 Beirut Time

Here is what has been happening at the Lebanese-Israeli border this morning:

- ⁠Israeli artillery shelling targeted the outskirts of Naqoura (Sour) and the Shalihat area in Khiam (Marjayoun), residents told our correspondent in the South.

-⁠ ⁠Sirens were activated in Northern Israel, according to Haaretz.

09:17 Beirut Time

Here is what happened at the Lebanese-Israeli border last night:

- ⁠Between 9:50 and 10:30 p.m.: While shooting the area of Mais al-Jabal (Marjayoun), Israel shot a member of the Amal-affiliated Risala Scout Association in the head who is currently in the intensive care unit of a hospital.

-⁠ ⁠Hezbollah said it targeted the new headquarters of the Israeli Liman Battalion with artillery shells at 9:50 p.m.

-⁠ ⁠Israeli artillery shelling targeted the outskirts of Naqoura and Alma al-Shaab (Sour)

-⁠ ⁠Between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.: The outskirts of Khiam (Marjayoun), the village of Aitaroun (Bint Jbeil), Hebbarieh and the valley of Shebaa (Hasbaya) were subjected to Israeli artillery shelling.

- There was heavy Israeli machine gun fire on the village of Wazzani (Hasbaya).

- ⁠Between 1 and 2 a.m.: Missiles were fired from southern Lebanon towards Israeli sites in the Eastern Galilee.

- Heavy Israeli artillery shelling targeted the village of Shebaa (Hasbaya).

09:03 Beirut Time

Top American and Israeli officials have held virtual talks about Israel’s plan for an offensive on Rafah, which has caused a deep rift between the two traditional allies reports the Guardian.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke for over two hours with their Israeli counterparts, including National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi and Minster for Strategic Affairs Ron Derme.

In the call, Washington urged Israel to avoid an all-out assault on the city, where the Israeli army says Hamas fighters are dispersed among some 1.3 million civilians, according to The Guardian. The Israeli side agreed to take these concerns into account and to have follow-up discussions between experts on the US-Israeli so-called strategic consultative group (SCG).

09:02 Beirut Time

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan will travel to Saudi Arabia this week for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,  Reuters reports.

It comes amid a US push for progress toward normalizing relations between Israel and the kingdom, which been put on ice after Hamas's Oct. 7 attack, but conversations have resumed in recent months.

A US official said Sullivan planned talks with the crown prince to check in on the issue but did not expect a major breakthrough.

09:00 Beirut Time

Tributes are being paid for the Australian aid worker killed in Gaza, Zomi Frankcom. Just last week she had been speaking on social media about the World Central Kitchen project to feed thousands of portions of beef stew in central Gaza.

Tim Costello, a former World Vision chief, wrote on social media: “It’s a special type of person who actually says: I’m going to risk my own life to actually protect the innocent," according to a report in The Guardian.

08:58 Beirut Time

At least seven aid workers have been killed in Gaza, in what their charity says was an Israeli attack.

In a statement, World Central Kitchen CEO, Erin Gore, says that the group was "traveling in a deconflicted zone in two armored cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle." It adds that "despite coordinating movements" with the Israeli army, "the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route."

"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,” said World Central Kitchen.

The White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson says the US was “heartbroken and deeply troubled.” Israel's military says it is conducting a "thorough review."

08:56 Beirut Time

Who was Mohammad Reza Zahedi, killed in Damascus by Israel?

Read this story for all the details on who the slain Quds Force commander was. 

08:54 Beirut Time

A recap of yesterday's events:

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic of Iran, announced that seven of its members, including two commanders, were killed in the strike blamed on Israel against the consular section of the Iranian embassy in Damascus.

In a statement, the IRGC strongly condemned the attack, confirming that two senior members of the Quds Force, Mohammad Reza Zahedi and Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi, were among the victims.

Hezbollah warned that Israel would be "punished." "This crime will not pass without the enemy being punished," the party said in a statement, promising reprisals.

08:51 Beirut Time
08:51 Beirut Time

Good morning!

Thank you for joining us for our live coverage of the war in Gaza and its regional and global impacts.