THE Israeli military has dismissed two officers over drone strikes that killed seven aid workers and reprimanded three others, citing rules of engagement violations and the mishandling of critical information.

Officials claimed that an investigation determined that a colonel had authorised the series of deadly drone strikes on the aid convoy based on one major’s observation, from grainy drone-camera footage, that someone in the convoy was armed.

That observation turned out to be untrue, military officials said.

It said the results of its investigation were turned over to the military’s advocate general, who will decide whether the officers or anyone else involved in the killings should receive further punishment or be prosecuted.

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The killings were condemned by Israel’s closest allies and renewed criticism of Israel’s conduct in the nearly six-month war with Hamas.

The aid workers were three British citizens, a Polish citizen, an Australian and a Canadian American dual citizen, all of whom worked for World Central Kitchen, the international charity founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres. Their Palestinian driver also was killed.

The investigation found two major areas of wrongdoing.

It faulted officers for failing to read messages alerting troops that cars, not aid trucks, would carry workers from the charity away from the warehouse where aid was distributed.

As a result, the cars that were targeted were misidentified as transporting militants.

The army also faulted a major who identified the strike target and a colonel who approved the strike, for acting with insufficient information.

The National: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference with Defense Minister Yoav Galant and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)

The army said the order was given after one of the passengers inside a car was identified as a gunman.

It said troops became suspicious because a gunman had been seen on the roof of one of the delivery trucks on the way to the warehouse.

The army showed reporters footage of the gunman firing his weapon while riding on top of one of the trucks.

After the aid was dropped off at a warehouse, an officer believed he had spotted a gunman in one of the cars.

The passenger, it turned out, was not carrying a weapon – the military said it is possible he was just carrying a bag.

The army said it initially hit one car. As people scrambled away into a second car, it hit that vehicle as well.

It did the same thing when survivors scrambled into a third car.

Army officials claimed that drone operators could not see that the cars were marked with the words World Central Kitchen because it was night.

The army could not say exactly where the communication about the convoy’s plans had broken down.

The army declined to answer questions about whether similar violations of rules of engagement have taken place during the war, in which Palestinians, aid workers and international rights groups have repeatedly accused the army of recklessly striking civilians.

The investigation was headed by Yoav Har-Even, a retired general.

The seven who were killed were distributing food that had been taken into Gaza through a newly established maritime corridor.

World Central Kitchen said it had co-ordinated its movements with the military, and that the vehicles were marked with the organisation’s logo.

“It was a direct attack on clearly marked vehicles whose movements were known by” the Israeli military, Andres said on Wednesday.

More than 220 humanitarian workers have been killed in the conflict, according to the UN.

“Let’s be very clear. This is tragic, but it is not an anomaly,” Scott Paul, of the humanitarian group Oxfam, said on Thursday in a briefing with other relief organisations before the results of Israel’s investigation were released.

“The killing of aid workers in Gaza has been systemic.”