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Biden, Netanyahu to speak Thursday following Gaza aid deaths: US official

File photo of destruction in Gaza

AFP


US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak on Thursday, a US official said, in their first call since an Israeli strike killed seven aid workers in Gaza.

The call comes after Biden expressed outrage over the deaths of the employees of the US-based World Central Kitchen group and said Israel must do more to protect aid workers and civilians.

"I can confirm President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu will speak tomorrow," a US official with knowledge of the matter told AFP on Wednesday.

Netanyahu has said the Israeli military "unintentionally" killed the aid workers in the attack in Gaza on Monday. The victims included a US-Canadian national along with three Britons, a Pole, an Australian and a Palestinian.

But Biden has led a chorus of international anger, and on Tuesday he issued one of his strongest statements on Israel's conduct since its war on Hamas started following the October 7 Hamas attacks.

Biden said he was "outraged and heartbroken" by the deaths, adding: "Incidents like yesterday's simply should not happen."

The White House admitted that Biden was becoming increasingly frustrated with Israel's failure to protect aid workers and civilians despite repeated appeals to Netanyahu.

"I think you can sense the frustration in that statement" that Biden issued, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

But the White House said that Biden continued to support Israel's "right to defend itself" and there were no plans to curb arms deliveries to the key US ally.

Relations between Democrat Biden and hard-right leader Netanyahu have become increasingly tense.

Biden and Netanyahu last spoke on March 18 when the US president urged the Israeli leader not to launch a ground offensive on the southern city of Rafah.

An Israeli delegation is due to visit Washington next week to discuss the issue.

Netanyahu had earlier canceled the visit to protest the United States abstaining on a UN Security Council motion backing a ceasefire in Gaza -- but later relented.