Home World News Biden urges Gaza deal as fallout of Israeli attack on WCK grows

Biden urges Gaza deal as fallout of Israeli attack on WCK grows

Biden urges Gaza deal as fallout of Israeli attack on WCK grows

President Biden urged Egypt and Qatar’s leaders to press Hamas to commit to a cease-fire and hostage release deal with Israel, as negotiations were scheduled to resume this weekend in Cairo, according to a senior administration official.

The head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, David Barnea, and the head of Israeli security agency Shin Bet, Ronen Bar, are both expected to attend, as is CIA Director William J. Burns. Biden also told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call this week that “everything must be done to secure the release of hostages,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under rules set by the White House.

Negotiations have for months focused on trying to secure a cease-fire of at least six weeks, along with the release of about half of the remaining hostages held in Gaza, in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Ahead of the latest round of talks, pressure grew on Israel over its Monday attack on World Central Kitchen aid workers delivering food to a besieged population going hungry in Gaza.

Australia said Saturday that it has “not yet received sufficient information to satisfy our expectations” in Israel’s probe of the strikes, which killed seven members of the WCK aid convoy, including an Australian, as well as American, Palestinian, Polish and British workers. Australia is appointing a Special Adviser “so we can be advised about the appropriateness of the process” of the Israeli probe, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong added.

The Israeli military dismissed two officers and reprimanded three commanders, after Israel said its investigation found the WCK attack was a “serious violation” of procedures. But the nonprofit said Israel’s military “cannot credibly investigate its own failure,” calling for an independent review.

Also on Friday, a group of 40 House Democrats called for pausing offensive arms transfers to Israel over the WCK attack, “until a full investigation into the airstrike is completed.” The letter, signed by lawmakers including Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), addressed the Biden administration as global calls for suspending weapons to Israel grow.

Here’s what else to know

The U.N. humanitarian affairs office warned almost one-third of children under the age of 2 in northern Gaza are suffering from “severe wasting,” the most lethal form of malnutrition. “A severely wasted child is reduced to the most basic bodily functions,” according to UNICEF. “It takes all their energy just to keep breathing.” At least 28 children have died of lack of food and water as of April 1, the U.N. office said, citing the Gaza Health Ministry, and more than 50,000 children under the age of 5 are acutely malnourished.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the “real test is results” after Israel, under increasing international pressure, said it would open more aid routes into Gaza. E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the measures were “not enough to prevent starvation” in the Palestinian enclave. Israel’s announcement came hours after a call in which Biden told Netanyahu that the United States would reassess its policy on the war if Israel did not immediately address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and protect aid workers.

The IDF said one of its military helicopters mistakenly killed a hostage on Oct. 7 when it fired at a vehicle carrying Hamas militants and hostages. It said the commander of the air force “did not find fault in the operation by the helicopter crew” following an investigation.

At least 33,091 people have been killed and 75,750 injured in Gaza since the war began, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants and says the majority of the dead are women and children. Israel estimates that about 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, including more than 300 soldiers, and says 256 soldiers have been killed since the start of its military operation in Gaza.

Karen DeYoung and Michael Miller contributed to this report.


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