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UN to Israel: Let aid workers do their job

FILE PHOTO: Members of "World Central Kitchen" prepare food for Palestinians, in the location given as Gaza

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -The killing of seven people working for celebrity chef Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen charity in Gaza is "the inevitable result of the way this war is currently being conducted," United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday.

He said the U.N. "yet again" calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the six-month long war between Israel and Hamas between Israel and Hamas. Israel is retaliating against Hamas in Gaza over a deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian militants.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday's airstrike that killed the aid workers was unintended.

"The multiplicity of such events is the inevitable result of the way this war is being conducted," Dujarric told reporters. "At least 196 humanitarians have been killed since October in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which is one of the world's most dangerous and difficult places to work."

Asked what the U.N. would say to the Israeli government over the airstrike, he said: "The message is let humanitarian workers do their job."

U.N. Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza Sigrid Kaag met with the World Central Kitchen team in Gaza just hours before they were killed and was appalled by the attack, said Dujarric.

The U.N. has warned of a looming famine in Gaza and complained of obstacles to getting aid in and distributing it.

"We have a deconfliction mechanism," Dujarric said on Tuesday. "We have noted it was not working properly. We keep delivering aid ... on an opportunistic basis, which is no way to run a major aid operation."

Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood said the incident was "yet a further reminder" that Israel needs to do more to protect humanitarian personnel and facilities in Gaza.

"It is unacceptable and inexplicable that nearly six months into this conflict, Israeli military deconfliction mechanisms are not functioning appropriately," he told the Security Council on Tuesday. "This must not happen again."

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Kanishka Singh, Rosalba O'Brien and Bill Berkrot)