WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to speak by phone on Thursday, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the call.

It will be their first direct communication since seven aid workers were killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza this week.

The discussion comes after Biden on Tuesday delivered some of his strongest criticism of Israel since the start of its war with Hamas, saying that he was “outraged and heartbroken” by the deaths of the World Central Kitchen humanitarian workers, who were killed by Israeli airstrikes on Monday.

President Joe Biden, left, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
President Joe Biden, left, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, to discuss the the war between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 18, 2023.Miriam Alster / AP file

“Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians,” Biden said in his statement Tuesday.

Netanyahu wrote on X on Tuesday that Israel “deeply regrets” the death of the workers, adding that the country is “fully committed to enabling humanitarian aid to reach the civilian population in Gaza and we will do everything in our power to ensure that such tragedies do not occur in the future.”

Biden and Netanyahu last spoke on March 18.

During that call, the White House said that Biden warned the Israeli leader against implementing a planned military operation in Rafah and invited Netanyahu to send a senior interagency team to Washington.

Netanyahu canceled the high-profile delegation’s visit to Washington, though it may be rescheduled for the coming days. A version of the meeting took place virtually on Monday.

Separately, on Wednesday, Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz called for early elections to take place in September.

The Israeli government has said that about 1,200 people were killed in Israel during the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas. About 240 Israelis were also kidnapped, and Israel has said that more than 100 people are still being held hostage in Gaza.

Since the war broke out, more than 32,900 people have died in Gaza, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Monica Alba reported from Washington, Zoë Richards reported from New York.

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