The Israeli army recognized, Friday April 5, a series of “serious errors” which caused the death of seven humanitarian workers, killed Monday in Gaza by three Israeli strikes launched in the space of four minutes on their convoy.

According to an internal Israeli army investigation, the team operating the drones behind the strikes made an “operational error in situational assessment” after spotting a “Hamas gunman” firing from roof of one of the aid trucks that members of the American NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) were escorting.

“Following a misidentification, the armed forces attacked the three WCK vehicles, wrongly believing that they contained Hamas members, thus resulting in the death of seven innocent humanitarian workers,” we read in this report.

Also citing “violations of normal operating procedures,” the army acknowledged that WCK had communicated its route plan, but the soldiers who carried out the strikes did not have it in hand. The tragedy “could have been avoided”, it is written in the conclusion of the investigation, which adds that two officers involved in this blunder will be dismissed.

WCK calls for an independent commission of inquiry

At a press briefing at army headquarters in Tel Aviv, senior Israeli officers showed journalists drone videos showing the “Hamas agent” joining the NGO’s convoy American. Large WCK logos adorned the roofs of the vehicles, but the drone camera could not see them in the darkness, said retired Gen. Yoav Har-Even, who is leading the investigation. “This was a determining factor in the chain of events,” he said, citing confusion that led command to believe the convoy vehicles “had been seized by Hamas.”

” It’s a tragedy. This is a serious error for which we are responsible, admitted Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, spokesperson for the Israeli army. We will make sure this never happens again. »

WCK requested on Friday the creation of an independent commission of inquiry into this tragedy. “The Israeli army video shows no reason to fire on our convoy, which carried no weapons and posed no threat,” the NGO stressed in a statement. For WCK, the Israeli army “cannot credibly investigate its own failure in Gaza.” The army’s “apologies” “are little comfort,” said the head of the NGO, Erin Gore, insisting that Israel must “take concrete measures to ensure the safety of humanitarians.” .

“Immediate steps to increase humanitarian aid”

The seven aid workers – three Britons, a dual Canadian, a Pole, an Australian and a Palestinian – were killed after supervising the unloading of a ship carrying 300 tonnes of aid being transported to the interior of the territory.

The death of the humanitarian workers caused a wave of indignation. On Thursday, United States President Joe Biden called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to order an “immediate ceasefire.” During a telephone interview, he suggested, for the first time, that the United States was warning Israel about its support. Mr. Biden “clearly stated that U.S. policy toward Gaza will be determined by [the] assessment of the concrete steps taken by Israel” to protect civilians, according to a statement released by the White House.

“What we expect and hope to see in the hours and days to come is a dramatic increase in humanitarian assistance (…) and a reduction in violence against civilians and certainly against humanitarian workers,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

Consequences of American pressure? Israel’s security cabinet on Friday approved “immediate measures to increase humanitarian aid to the civilian population” in Gaza, Mr. Netanyahu’s office reported in a statement. Israel will thus authorize the “temporary” delivery of aid through the Israeli port of Ashdod, approximately 40 kilometers north of Palestinian territory, and through the Erez crossing point, between Gaza and southern Israel . Israeli authorities will also allow “an increase in Jordanian aid through Kerem Shalom,” a border crossing in southern Israel.