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ConflictsMiddle East

Israel-Hamas war: Poland says aid strike 'testing' ties

Published April 3, 2024last updated April 4, 2024

Polish PM Donald Tusk has joined world leaders in condemning an Israeli strike that killed seven aid workers, including one Polish citizen. The identities of three British workers were also disclosed. DW has the latest.

The destroyed vehicle belonging to World Central Kitchen
Seven aid workers were killed in an Israeli strike on MondayImage: AFP
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Bodies of foreign aid workers killed in Israeli strike taken to Egypt
  • Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said the killing of a Polish aid worker in an Israeli strike was testing bilateral ties
  • The Palestinian envoy to the UN has relaunched a bid to gain UN membership status

Here are the main headlines from Israel's war on Hamas on Wednesday, April 3:

Skip next section Biden and Netanyahu to speak by phone Thursday
April 4, 2024

Biden and Netanyahu to speak by phone Thursday

US President Joe Biden will speak via telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.

The White House has said that Biden is "outraged" over an Israeli airstrike that hit a humanitarian convoy three days ago.

However, the president has made no fundamental change in the United States' support for Israel in its war in Gaza.

The strike killed seven aid workers from chef Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen organization as they drove in a convoy delivering food to Gazans. Andres has accused Israel of systematically targeting his associates.

Netanyahu admitted that Israel carried out the strike "unintentionally." Israel's army chief said the strike was a "grave mistake."

The White House says Biden wants to see a swift investigation of the incident and that the president is likely to push Israel to do more to protect humanitarian workers as well as allowing far more aid into Gaza.  

Israel admits to strike that killed Gaza aid workers

Skip next section Iran threatens to 'slap' Israel over Syria consulate attack
April 3, 2024

Iran threatens to 'slap' Israel over Syria consulate attack

Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday threatened to "slap" Israel over an airstrike in Syria that killed seven members of Tehran's Revolutionary Guards.

"The defeat of the Zionist regime in Gaza will continue and this regime will be close to decline and dissolution. Desperate efforts like the one they committed in Syria will not save them from defeat," the supreme religious leader told officials during a speech.

Iran says 13 people were killed in the missile strike, including two generals from the Quds Force, Tehran's foreign operations arm.

Iran is a major backer of Israel's enemies, including the Islamist Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon.

Israel on Wednesday said it was calling up reservists specialized in air defense. Though no details were given by the military, Israeli media reported that the move was in response to a heightened threat emanating from Iran in the wake of the Syria attack.

Skip next section Israeli War Cabinet member Gantz calls for September elections
April 3, 2024

Israeli War Cabinet member Gantz calls for September elections

Benny Gantz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Israeli War Cabinet on Wednesday called for elections to be held in September.

Speaking on Israeli television, Gantz said new elections would quell tensions in Israeli society as well as bolstering the country's international credibility.

Netanyahu has yet to say whether he would be willing to agree to elections. Now in his sixth term as prime minister, he has become increasingly unpopular, especially in the wake of the October 7 terror attacks by Islamist militant group Hamas and Israel's ensuing military campaign.

A former defense minister and a retired army general, Gantz heads the center-right National Union party and could become prime minister if opinion polls hold. He did not say whether he would resign from the Cabinet if Netanyahu refuses to move up elections — which are scheduled for October 2026.

Netanyahu's rightwing Likud party flatly rejected Gantz's proposal, saying it would paralyze and divide society, halt the destruction of Hamas and quash all hope of returning hostages currently under their control.

Skip next section EU condemns strike on Iranian embassy in Damascus
April 3, 2024

EU condemns strike on Iranian embassy in Damascus

The European Union has condemned an air strike on the Iranian embassy in Syria's capital, Damascus, that killed seven people.

Iran and Syria blamed Israel for the attack. Israel has not claimed responsibility for the strike, but has said in the past that it targets in Syria linked to Iran or Tehran-backed militias.

"In this highly tense regional situation, it is imperative to show utmost restraint," Peter Stano, a spokesperson for the executive European Commission, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

"The principle of the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises and personnel must be respected in all cases and in all circumstances in accordance with international law."

Western officials have voiced concerns that hostilities in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Hamas Islamist militant group could lead to a greater conflagration in the Middle East.

Why would Israel target Iran's Damascus consulate?

Skip next section Spain PM Pedro Sanchez says Netanyahu response to aid worker deaths 'insufficient'
April 3, 2024

Spain PM Pedro Sanchez says Netanyahu response to aid worker deaths 'insufficient'

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez dismissed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's response to an airstrike that killed seven aid workers in Gaza as "insufficient" and "unacceptable."

"We are awaiting a much stronger and more detailed clarification, after which we'll see what action to take," Sanchez said in Qatar, one of the stops of his three-nation tour of the Middle East.

"It seems to me absolutely unacceptable, insufficient," he added when asked about Netanyahu's statements about the tragedy.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu said Israel was responsible for the strike that killed the World Central Kitchen aid workers, calling it a "tragic case of an unintentional strike." 

Spain currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

Skip next section Poland summons Israeli ambassador over deadly Gaza strike
April 3, 2024

Poland summons Israeli ambassador over deadly Gaza strike

Poland's Foreign Ministry has summoned Israel's ambassador for talks over the death of a Polish aid worker killed in an Israeli strike in Gaza.

Poland has demanded Israel explain the Gaza strike.

Deputy foreign minister Andrzej Szejna told the Polish state news agency PAP, "I want to talk to the ambassador about the new situation in Polish-Israeli relations and about the moral, political and financial responsibility" for the strike. 

Earlier, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk warned the strike and the Israeli government's reaction to it were straining ties between the two countries.

Seven people working for the food aid charity World Central Kitchen were killed in the Israeli strike in Gaza on Tuesday, including three British citizens, one Australian, one Pole and a US-Canadian. A Palestinian was also among the aid workers killed.

Skip next section Protesters seeking hostages' release smear paint in Israeli parliament
April 3, 2024

Protesters seeking hostages' release smear paint in Israeli parliament

A group of protesters including relatives of the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza stormed the Israeli parliament on Wednesday to demand the return of their loved ones.

The protesters smeared yellow paint against the windows of the viewing gallery while chanting "Now! Now!" at the lawmakers down below.

They were quickly removed by security guards.

Some members of the opposition reportedly raised their arms in a show of support for the protest.

The Knesset's television channel also broadcast footage of the incident and shared it online.

The Hamas and other Islamist militants launched attacks on southern Israel on October 7, killing around 1200 people, mostly civilians. They also seized around 250 hostages during the attack, Israel believes about 130 remain in Gaza.

Skip next section Bodies of foreign aid workers reach Egypt
April 3, 2024

Bodies of foreign aid workers reach Egypt

Egyptian state media says the bodies of six foreign aid workers killed in Israeli strikes have been transported out of the Gaza Strip.

A journalist for the French news agency AFP saw ambulances arrive at the Rafah crossing.

The remains are to be repatriated after arriving in Egypt.

The strike on Tuesday killed three British citizens, one Australian, one Pole and a US-Canadian citizen who were working for the World Food Kitchen aid organization. A Palestinian was also among the aid workers killed.

Skip next section Polish PM Tusk condemns Israel over strike on aid workers
April 3, 2024

Polish PM Tusk condemns Israel over strike on aid workers

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Israel's deadly strike on foreign aid workers in Gaza has strained relations between the two countries, as more names of the victims come to light.

"The tragic attack against volunteers and your reaction are generating an understandable anger," Tusk said on social media on Wednesday.

Tusk said that Poland had shown solidarity after the October 7 terror attack by Hamas.

"Today, you are putting this solidarity to the test," he said, directly addressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Wednesday, World Central Kitchen confirmed that British security contractors John Chapman, James Kirby, James Henderson were killed in the strike.

They were killed alongside four other aid workers whose identities were already made public: Palestinian Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, Australian Lalzawmi 'Zomi' Frankcom, Polish national Damian Sobol and US-Canadian citizen Jacob Flockinger.

An emergency worker holding a British, Polish and Australian passport
An Israeli strike that killed foreign aid workers has prompted international outcryImage: Abdel Kareem Hana/AP/dpa/picture alliance

US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly have also condemned Israel over the strike that killed foreign aid workers.

World Central Kitchen on Wednesday described the killed aid workers as "heroes."

Israel admits to strike that killed Gaza aid workers

Skip next section Palestinians relaunch United Nations membership bid
April 3, 2024

Palestinians relaunch United Nations membership bid

The Palestinian Authority has renewed its request for a Palestinian state to join the United Nations.

A petition to join the international body was first submitted in 2011 but it failed to gain the nine votes necessary to pass in the Security Council. The following year, the State of Palestine was granted UN observer status by the General Assembly.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour requested that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reconsider the original application dating back to 2011.

"Today, the State of Palestine, and upon instructions of the Palestinian leadership, sent a letter [to] the Secretary-General requesting renewed consideration to [our] membership application," the Palestinian permanent observer mission to the UN said on social media.

In a separate letter, the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement threw their support behind the Palestinian membership application.

"We wish to bring to your attention that, as of this date, 140 Member States have recognized the state of Palestine," they said in a joint letter.

Any request to become a UN member state must first be recommended by the Security Council and then endorsed by a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly.

However, Israel's closest ally, the United States, could exercise its veto power to block the Palestinian membership request.

Skip next section Israeli police injured in car-ramming attack
April 3, 2024

Israeli police injured in car-ramming attack

Four Israeli police officers suffered minor injuries after a car-ramming attack in the early hours of Wednesday morning, police said.

Israeli authorities said a driver crashed into the officers at a checkpoint in the Israeli town of Kochav Yair, which borders the occupied West Bank.

Authorities identified the driver as a 26-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel, who then "attempted to stab security agents."

The officers then "neutralized" the attacker, who died at the scene, according to Israeli authorities.

zc/ab (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)