Israel acknowledges mistake in aid convoy airstrike

The airstrike was a mistake, officials have admitted, following global outrage and accusations of intentional targeting

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi has described as a “grave mistake” the bombing of a humanitarian convoy in Gaza on Monday. Seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers, mostly foreigners, were killed in an airstrike that reportedly targeted a Hamas militant. The incident has sparked international condemnation.

Halevi took to X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday to apologize for the strike that left three British citizens dead, as well as a Polish and an Australian national, a Canadian-American dual citizen, and a Palestinian.

”I want to be very clear – the strike was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers. It was a mistake that followed a misidentification – at night during a war in very complex conditions. It shouldn’t have happened,” Halevi said in a video published on the official account of the IDF.

The general went on to describe the incident as a “grave mistake,” and said the IDF were “sorry for the unintentional harm” caused to the members of the WCK.

Another apology was issued to WCK founder Jose Andres by Israeli President Isaac Herzog. He called Andres to express “deep sorrow and sincere apologies,” the Times of Israel newspaper has reported, citing a statement from the president’s office.

The acknowledgements come after Andres lashed out at a remark made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he suggested that such “tragic” and “unintended” incidents happen “in wartime.”

“The airstrikes on our convoy were not just some unfortunate mistake in the fog of war,” Andres wrote in the Yedioth Ahronoth daily. “It was a direct attack on clearly marked vehicles whose movements were known by the IDF.” 

Haaretz newspaper reported on Tuesday that the IDF had targeted the WCK convoy intentionally because of suspicion that a Hamas operative was traveling with the group. The outlet’s defense sources said the cars had been “clearly marked on the roof and sides” with the WCK logo, but that an IDF unit responsible for the security of the route “identified an armed man” with the group and “suspected that he was a terrorist.”

The incident drew condemnation from the international community, including from the staunchest allies of Israel, such as the US and the UK, and other nations whose citizens were among the dead.

Israel declared war on Hamas after the Palestinian militants carried out a surprise cross-border raid on October 7 last year, killing some 1,100 people and taking more than 200 hostages. The Israeli military campaign has since left nearly 33,000 people dead, according to the Palestinian health ministry.