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One of the World Central Kitchen's vehicles, which bore its logo on its roof, that was hit by an Israeli air strike Ismael Abu Dayyah/Alamy

'Blame Hamas': Here's how Israeli media have reacted to the IDF killing seven aid workers

The victims were staff of the US-based charity World Central Kitchen, which was in Gaza to provide food to starving civilians.

MAJOR ENGLISH-LANGUAGE news outlets in Israel have reacted to the Israeli military’s killing of seven aid workers in Gaza with varying editorial stances, including arguing that the blame for the deaths should be “laid at Hamas’ doorstep” instead of Israel’s.

As the bodies of deceased aid workers are taken to Egypt for repatriation onwards to their home countries, the Jerusalem Post has argued that the deaths are “tragic, but Hamas is still to blame for [the] war”, while the Times of Israel is primarily concerned about what the “mistaken targeting” means about the effectiveness of Benjamin Netanyahu’s military strategy against Gaza. 

Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha (25), Lalzawmi (Zomi) Frankcom (43), Damian Soból (35), Jacob Flickinger (33), John Chapman (57), James (Jim) Henderson (33), and James Kirby (47) were killed by Israeli air strikes on Monday.

WCK aid workers killed The aid workers killed by the Israeli air strike Alamy Alamy

The seven victims were staff of the US-based charity World Central Kitchen, which was in Gaza to provide food to starving civilians.

The head of the Israeli Defence Forces, Herzl Halevi, said the attack was a “grave mistake” and Netanyahu made a public apology, but the fatal operation has attracted international outrage and renewed calls for an end to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

In Israel, this is how some news outlets have responded.

The Jerusalem Post

In The Jerusalem Post, a centre to centre-right newspaper, an editorial this morning takes the position that “unintentional killings of World Central Kitchen workers is tragic, but Hamas is still to blame for war”.

It calls Monday’s events “one of the innumerable tragedies of the war in Gaza” but quickly adds that it is “a war callously triggered by Hamas’ invasion of Israel on October 7, its murder of 1,200 people, and its kidnapping of 240 hostages”.

The editorial writes that Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that unintentional harm to non-combatants “happens in war”, was correct in his comments but that he “could have opted for more empathetic terminology”. 

It criticises the response from US President Joe Biden, who said that Israel has not done enough to protect civilians. It takes issue with Biden not “acknowledg[ing] Hamas’ responsibility for the entire situation”.

“All civilian casualties in Gaza, even those mistakenly caused by Israel, need to be laid at Hamas’ doorstep,” the paper writes.

The final paragraph of the newspaper’s editorial reads: “Israel will investigate and learn the lessons of this tragedy because this is what it does and because this is what is right. It does not need any prodding to do so. What Israel does need, however, is for the international community to rein in its hypocrisy and stop treating battle zones as crime scenes, something it only inexplicably seemingly does when the Jewish state is involved.”

melbourne-australia-03rd-apr-2024-people-participate-in-a-pro-palestine-demonstration-in-melbourne-wednesday-april-3-2024-australian-woman-zomi-frankcom-is-among-a-group-of-aid-workers-killed A demonstration in Melbourne, Australia. One of the aid workers killed in the strike, Zomi Frankcom, was Australian. James Ross / Alamy James Ross / Alamy / Alamy

The Times of Israel

This news website’s founder David Horovitz, who launched the outlet in 2012 and was previously the editor of The Jerusalem Post, has penned an editor’s note with the headline: “Yet another ‘How could this have happened?’ tragedy prompts deep strategic concerns.”

Horovitz writes that “as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi have said in their heartfelt apologies, things go wrong in wars, and especially in complex urban wars, at night, fought against terrorist armies embedded like nowhere before amid the civilian populace”.

But, he adds, “Israel had a core, declared interest in the work that World Central Kitchen was doing in Gaza [...] It had become one of the key organizations that Israel was working with in Gaza, an increasingly central alternative to the reviled, Hamas-riddled UNRWA”.

The reason for his umbrage at the incident is less about the death of the aid workers and more about what he sees as inefficiencies in Netanyahu’s strategy.

“I write this concerned only with Israel’s well-being in general and fiercely supportive of the twin declared goals of the war in particular,” he states.

“Telling the nation in intermittent press conferences that Israel is on the cusp of victory, without making the unenviable decisions about the strategy for achieving it, is bravado, not leadership.”

rafah-gaza-03rd-apr-2024-one-of-the-ambulances-carrying-the-bodies-of-staff-members-of-the-us-based-aid-group-world-central-kitchen-arrives-at-the-rafah-crossing-with-egypt-in-the-southern-gaza-s One of the ambulances carrying the bodies of the aid workers arriving at the Rafah crossing with Egypt Ismael Mohamad / Alamy Ismael Mohamad / Alamy / Alamy


Haaretz, Israel’s oldest newspaper currently in print and seen as the most left-wing of its major news sources, published an editorial yesterday responding to the killings with the message: “Israel must end its war in Gaza now.”

It writes that the incident cannot end with just the investigation promised by the IDF, nor the apology from Netanyahu. The strikes, it says, were “equal parts devastating and pointless”.

“Israel must enable aid organisations, including those belonging to the United Nations, to distribute aid safely and securely. If Israel cannot ensure that, then it should turn over the task to international bodies and designate certain routes as immune from air or ground attacks,” Haaretz’s editorial says.

It goes on to say that the incident “cannot be distanced from the ease with which the IDF kills Palestinians in Gaza”.

“It is not enough to simply exercise more caution in authorising fire,” it says, adding that the number of fatalities and casualties in Gaza coupled with “the hunger and vast destruction and now Monday night’s incident should tell us that the time has come to end the war”.