President Biden said he was “outraged and heartbroken” by the killing of seven humanitarian aid workers in a strike by Israeli forces, strongly condemning the attack just hours after Israel’s top military commander acknowledged its military had made a “grave mistake.”

Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi made a rare admission of fault by Israel in the six-month-old war in the Gaza Strip, as he accepted responsibility for the deaths of the aid workers.

“It was a mistake that followed a misidentification, at night, during the war, in a very complex condition,” he said, adding, “It shouldn’t have happened.”

General Halevi’s mea culpa marked a change in tone from Israel’s military, which throughout the war has largely rejected criticism of its conduct by arguing that it was doing what was necessary to defeat Hamas. It came as many of Israel’s closest allies voiced indignation and demanded explanations for the attack.

The seven workers, traveling in a convoy, were with World Central Kitchen, a charity that was helping to feed hungry Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

In a sharply worded statement, Mr. Biden said that Israel had not done enough to protect civilians and noted that the deaths were not a “stand-alone incident.” He said the conflict “has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed.”

The president’s blunt criticism of an ally highlighted his growing impatience with Israel’s conduct of the war and increasing tensions with its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the death toll in Gaza has climbed, according to Gazan health authorities, past 32,000.

David Cameron, the British foreign secretary, called the workers’ deaths “completely unacceptable,” saying in a statement that “Israel must urgently explain how this happened and make major changes to ensure the safety of aid workers.”

The World Central Kitchen workers — a Palestinian, an Australian, a Pole, three Britons and a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen — were traveling in clearly marked cars after leaving a warehouse in Deir al Balah, in central Gaza, when their convoy came under fire late Monday, the organization said in a statement. The Israeli military had been informed of the workers’ movements, the charity said.

The bodies of the six foreigners were driven to Egypt on Wednesday, and from there were to be flown to their home countries.

The killings drew condemnation from countries around the world, including those of the people killed, and prompted aid agencies to reassess their operations in Gaza. World Central Kitchen, which was founded by the renowned chef José Andrés, said on Tuesday that it was suspending its operations in Gaza.

Throughout the war, Palestinians and relief organizations have accused Israel of bombing indiscriminately, heedless of civilian casualties — claims Israel has consistently denied. The killing of aid workers from countries that have backed Israel could add fuel to rising international anger over the way it has conducted the war.

General Halevi said that an independent body would investigate the killings, and that the military would learn from the conclusions and share the findings with World Central Kitchen.

“Israel is at war with Hamas, not with the people of Gaza,” General Halevi said. “We are sorry for the unintentional harm to the members of the W.C.K. We share in the grief of the families, as well as the entire World Central Kitchen organization, from the bottom of our hearts.”

The remarks from General Halevi and Mr. Netanyahu — who said on social media that Israel “deeply regrets the tragic incident” — came within 24 hours of the strike.

In December, it took several days for the Israeli military to acknowledge that it had carried out two airstrikes in the central Gaza Strip that health officials in the enclave said had killed dozens of civilians.


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