Israeli PM admits Gaza strike 'unintentionally' killed seven aid workers

World Central Kitchen logos and parts of one of the vehicles hit in the airstrike in Gaza that killed seven aid workers
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said during a press briefing that the US is 'outraged' by the Israeli airstrike which killed aid workers in Gaza (image: Omar Ashtawy/ZUMA/APA Images/dpa/picture alliance)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted on Tuesday that Israel's military had "unintentionally" killed seven aid workers with a US charity in an air strike in Gaza.

World Central Kitchen had earlier said a "targeted attack" by Israeli forces on Monday had killed the group, which included Australian, British, Palestinian, Polish and US-Canadian employees.

Britain summoned the Israeli ambassador to London to hear its "unequivocal condemnation" of the strike, with three of those killed British, and demanded "full accountability".

Netanyahu said it was a "tragic case" that would be investigated "right to the end", stopping short of apologising for the deaths.

But President Isaac Herzog took that step, telling WCK founder Jose Andres of his "deep sorrow and sincere apologies over the tragic loss of life".

US President Joe Biden also told Andres, a Spanish-American celebrity chef, that "he's heartbroken" and insisted aid workers be protected, the White House said.

The White House added it was "outraged", while Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington urged "a swift, thorough and impartial investigation to understand exactly what happened".

AFPTV footage showed the roof of a vehicle emblazoned with the group's logo had been punctured, alongside the mangled wreck of other vehicles.

US-based WCK had been working to unload food brought to Gaza by sea from Cyprus.

The group's CEO Erin Gore said: "I am heartbroken and appalled that we – World Central Kitchen and the world – lost beautiful lives today because of a targeted attack by the (Israeli army)."

The charity said the team was travelling in a "de-conflicted" area in a convoy of "two armoured cars branded with the WCK logo" and another vehicle at the time of the strike.

"Despite coordinating movements with the (Israeli army), the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route," it said.

Cyprus said on Tuesday that the ship, the Jennifer, was returning to the Mediterranean island with around 240 tons of aid that had not been unloaded.

The Israeli military said it was "conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident".

There was widespread condemnation of the attack, with the UN slamming Israel's "disregard" for humanitarian law.

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths expressed "outrage" over the deaths, describing the aid workers as "heroes killed while trying to feed starving people," a statement said.

And Poland demanded compensation for the families of the seven aid workers, one of whom is Polish. (AFP)