Home Brussels Blinken calls for ‘swift, impartial investigation’ into killing of aid workers in Gaza airstrike

Blinken calls for ‘swift, impartial investigation’ into killing of aid workers in Gaza airstrike

by editor

PARIS  — The U.S. has urged a speedy and independent investigation into an Israeli strike that killed seven staff members of the U.S.-based charity World Central Kitchen in the Gaza Strip on April 1, and called on Israel to do more to protect civilian lives.

“The victims of yesterday’s strike join a record number of humanitarian workers killed in this conflict,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a press conference in Paris on Tuesday. “We urge a swift, thorough and impartial investigation to understand exactly what happened,” he said alongside his French counterpart, Stéphane Séjourné.

“We have impressed upon the Israelis the imperative to do more to protect innocent civilian lives, be they innocent Palestinian children … or aid workers,” he continued.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted on Tuesday that an “unintentional” Israeli airstrike had killed “innocent people” in Gaza after seven workers from World Central Kitchen were bombed.

The aid organization said the dead included Australian, Polish and British citizens.

Blinken is in Paris at the start of a four-day European tour that will also take him to Brussels and Louvain in Belgium, where he will join a meeting of NATO foreign ministers and an EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council summit.

Blinken’s visit to Europe also follows a suspected Israeli strike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus on Monday, which killed several senior commanders in what is seen as an escalation of Israel’s war against its regional foes.

Both Blinken and Séjourné refrained from attributing responsibility for Monday’s strike. Séjourné said France was working to “prevent a regional escalation” and that the “responsibility for disruption rests entirely” on “regional actors” who are seeking to extend the conflict against Israel. Blinken, meanwhile, said the U.S. “was trying to understand exactly what happened.”

Since the start of Israel’s war against the Hamas militant group six months ago, clashes have increased on the border between Israel and Lebanon, where Iran-backed Hezbollah activists have escalated their rocket strikes into Israel. Iran also backs Hamas in the Gaza Strip as well as Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The region is now braced for an expected retaliation by Iran against Israel or American bases in the region, analysts say. Israel, which rarely acknowledges strikes against Iranian targets, said it had no comment on the attacks on the Iranian embassy. 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Tuesday that his country will take revenge on Israel after the deadly consulate explosion, which Tehran officials immediately blamed on Israel.

“This unfair crime won’t go unanswered,” Raisi said, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

Israel has so far not commented on Iran’s allegations.

Upping arms production

On Tuesday Blinken also visited a arms production site belonging to French manufacturer Nexter, where French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu said production targets would be increased to respond to Ukrainian demand and defense spending increases in Europe.

Nexter will produce 12 Caesar self-propelled howitzers a month, up from two before the war in Ukraine started, he said Tuesday. 

“The Caesar cannon has become the symbol of the artillery coalition [for Ukraine], with a significant increase in production capacity: two per month, now six per month,” he said, speaking alongside Blinken. 

Europe is under even greater pressure to arm Ukraine and finance the war effort as a $60 billion U.S. aid package remains stuck due to Republican opposition in Congress.

Blinken is also expected to meet French president Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace on Tuesday evening.

Source link

Related Posts