Middle East latest: Israeli PM Netanyahu should be removed now, predecessor says – as he condemns 'disgusting … – Sky News

Israel’s military chief has said the bombing of a World Central Kitchen convoy, in which seven aid workers including three Britons were killed, was “a mistake that followed misidentification”. Some of Israel’s closest allies have condemned the strike.
Wednesday 3 April 2024 23:01, UK
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A close friend of Damien Sobol says he immediately picked up his phone to text him when he heard about the Israeli strike on an aid convoy on Monday.
Mr Sobol, a Polish citizen, was one of seven World Central Kitchen workers killed.
Mikolaj Rykowski told Sky News that when he first heard of the attack, he prayed that his friend was not involved.
“I take my phone and write to Damien ‘how are you, bro? Where are you? Everything is okay?’… but of course he did not answer,” he said.
Mr Rykowski said Mr Sobol was “the best of all of us” and was “forever smiling”.
He said he was not angry at Israel, but angry for everyone caught up in war zones across the world.
Israel’s economy minister says suggestions that Israel knew it was targeting aid workers in Monday’s strike are “nonsense”.
It comes after celebrity chef and World Central Kitchen founder Jose Andres claimed the Israeli military targeted the workers “systematically, car by car” (see 19.10 post).
In response, Nir Barkat told the BBC there was “no way in the world” that Israel would target humanitarian workers.
“That’s nonsense. I’m sorry, give us a bit of a respect that we care about those people,” he said.
Mr Barkat insisted Israel would “interrogate” the incident and provide details to the aid workers’ families.
Monday night’s deadly strike reveals the “critical” need for a hostage deal in Gaza, the White House has said.
“If we get a hostage deal, it means that we can get more humanitarian aid… into Gaza,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, adding: “That is what we’re going to continue also to work on.”

Ms Jean-Pierre said Joe Biden was “working 24/7” with his team to get a deal done.
She also reiterated that the president was “outraged and heartbroken” over the deaths of humanitarian workers.
James “Jim” Henderson was among the six foreign aid workers killed in Gaza earlier this week.
The 33-year-old former roofer from Cornwall served for six years in the Royal Marines. He was reportedly due to leave Gaza on the day of the attack.
He was remembered today in his home town of Falmouth:
Benjamin Netanyahu is almost at the point of no return amid a deepening rift in the Israeli government, a foreign policy expert has said.
There have been growing calls for Mr Netanyahu to be ousted, and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz earlier urged the Israeli prime minister to commit to new elections later this year (see 20.21 post).
Asked about the ramifications of instability in Israeli politics, Aliona Hlivco, managing director of the Henry Jackson Society, told Sky’s The World programme that the country’s political system “has been unstable for a couple of years now”.
“That unfortunately is a given and perhaps has also driven the response to the Hamas attacks,” she said.
“Netanyahu has almost no point of return,” Ms Hlivco added, saying that it was “up to the people of Israel” to decide his future.
“One thing is certain – that Israelis do feel like this is an existential threat to them, that this is not just another flare up in the 100-year-old conflict.”
The supreme leader of Iran says Israel will be “slapped” after a deadly air strike on its consulate in Syria, in which two of its senior military commanders were killed.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps blamed Israel for the strike on Monday, as did Iran’s foreign ministry. Israel did not confirm the attack.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei branded it a “desperate attempt” by Israel, and said it won’t stop Israel’s “defeat” in Gaza.
“The defeat will continue. Their desperate attempts, like what they did in Syria… they will be slapped for that of course,” he said.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has branded statements made by Benjamin Netanyahu after the airstrike that killed aid workers “unacceptable and insufficient”.
Mr Sanchez said a “more determined and much more detailed clarification” of the incident was expected.
He told a news conference in Doha that the Israeli government “knew about the action and the itinerary of this NGO (non-governmental organisation) on the ground in Gaza”.
Benjamin Netanyahu earlier said the seven aid workers were “unintentionally” killed in what he called a “tragic case”.
It’s “difficult to accept” Israel’s assertion that the killing of aid workers in an airstrike was an unavoidable mistake, an Oxfam spokesperson has said.
A lot of coordination takes place between the Israeli authorities and humanitarian agencies in Gaza, Michelle Farrington told Sky’s The UK Tonight programme.
But despite this, some 2,200 aid workers have been killed in the region during the conflict, she said.
“It’s very difficult to kind of accept that this was just a mistake. 
“It makes the situation of being able provide additional assistance in Gaza extremely more complicated, extremely more difficult,” she said.
On when humanitarian groups that have paused their work in the region would continue operations, Ms Farrington said there was hope aid delivery would resume soon.
But she added that an immediate ceasefire was needed in order to provide sufficient help to the people of Gaza.
Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz is urging Benjamin Netanyahu to commit to national elections this year.
“We must agree on a date for elections in September, towards a year to the war if you will,” he said during a briefing.
Mr Gantz said setting a date would allow Israel to continue its military operation “while signalling to the citizens of Israel that we will soon renew their trust in us”.
Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition in Israel, appeared to support Mr Gantz’s call in a post to X, where he called the current Israeli leadership “the worst, most dangerous and failed government in the country’s history”.
However, in a statement, Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party said Mr Gantz was engaging in “petty politics” and said elections now would lead to “paralysis”, “division” and “damage”.
Mr Netanyahu’s term is set to go through 2026, but thousands have protested against him in recent weeks and demanded that early elections be held. 
Last night, a group of anti-government protesters attempted to break through barricades at the Israeli prime minister’s home during the fourth night of demonstrations.
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