Rishi Sunak demands 'transparent investigation' into strike that killed British aid workers in Gaza

2 April 2024, 18:49 | Updated: 2 April 2024, 21:14

Rishi Sunak has demanded a "thorough and transparent investigation" into an Israeli airstrike that killed three British aid workers in Gaza.

The prime minister spoke to his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday evening and told him he was "appalled" by the deaths of the World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers, Downing Street said.

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Nationals from Poland and Australia were also killed, as well as a dual citizen of the US and Canada - and a Palestinian who was driving the car they were all travelling in.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "The prime minister spoke to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this evening.

"He said he was appalled by the killing of aid workers, including three British nationals, in an airstrike in Gaza yesterday and demanded a thorough and transparent independent investigation into what happened.

"The prime minister said far too many aid workers and ordinary civilians have lost their lives in Gaza and the situation is increasingly intolerable."

The spokesperson said the UK "expects to see immediate action by Israel to end restrictions on humanitarian aid, deconflict with the UN and aid agencies, protect civilians and repair vital infrastructure like hospitals and water networks".

They added: "The prime minister reiterated that Israel's rightful aim of defeating Hamas would not be achieved by allowing a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza."

It is believed the workers were helping to deliver aid that had arrived hours earlier on a ship from Cyprus at the time.

Earlier, Mr Netanyahu acknowledged that Israeli forces were responsible for the airstrike, saying there was a "tragic incident of an unintended strike of our forces on innocent people in the Gaza Strip".

He added: "It happens in war, we check it to the end, we are in contact with the governments, and we will do everything so that this thing does not happen again."

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said it would carry out a "thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident".

Politicians condemned the deaths, with Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron stressing the need for "major changes" to ensure the safety of aid workers and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer calling for international law to be upheld in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Former national security adviser to the UK Lord Ricketts said Britain, and other international allies, should consider suspending arms export licences to Israel.

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Speaking on Sky News' Politics Hub, he said: "I think there is enough now that Israel is, to put it diplomatically, not paying attention to its international humanitarian law obligations to protect civilians, to protect humanitarian workers and medical workers.

"And I think each time there is another of these horrors, they must be getting closer to the point where the Americans start putting some restrictions on their arms."