Biden and Netanyahu set to speak for first time since deadly Israeli strike on World Central Kitchen convoy

Washington — President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are set to speak Thursday for the first time since an Israeli strike in Gaza killed seven aid workers, including one American, from the World Central Kitchen charity. 

Mr. Biden on Tuesday said he was “outraged and heartbroken” by the deadly strike, which prompted international condemnation. Israeli officials have said the strike was unintentional and a mistake.

José Andrés, the head of the World Central Kitchen, said the nonprofit aid organization had been communicating its workers’ movements to the Israeli Defense Forces. In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, he accused Israel of “deliberately” targeting the charity workers.

“This was not just a bad luck situation where, ‘Oops, we dropped a bomb in the wrong place,'” Andrés told the news agency, insisting his organization’s vehicles were clearly marked. Andrés said he believes the vehicles were targeted “systematically, car by car.”

Nir Barkat, Israel’s economy minister, dismissed Andrés’ comments as “nonsense” in an interview with CBS News’ partner network BBC News, insisting that it had been a “grave mistake” and for which he said Israel was “terribly sorry.”

Despite the president saying he’s “outraged,” the U.S. has no plans to conduct an independent investigation into the strike, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the president wants to see a swift, comprehensive investigation, but will leave that to the Israelis. The Biden administration is “going to continue to have those really tough conversations” with its Israeli counterparts, she said. 

“We understand how Chef Andrés is feeling,” Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday. “He just lost members of his team, I’m sure who felt like family to him as well.”

The deadly strike comes as the relationship between Mr. Biden and Netanyahu has becoming increasingly tense. Netanyahu recently canceled a visit by an Israeli delegation to Washington after the U.S. declined to block a vote in the U.N. Security Council calling for a cease-fire in Gaza and the release of hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7.

Last month, Mr. Biden said he believes Netanyahu is “hurting Israel more than helping Israel” by not doing more to avoid civilian deaths in Gaza. In response, Netanyahu said Mr. Biden was “wrong.” 

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