World Central Kitchen food aid workers killed in Israeli strike

World Central Kitchen food aid workers killed in Israeli strike

Relatives and friends mourn the body of Saif Abu Taha, an employee of the U.S.-based aid organization World Central Kitchen, who was killed during his funeral in Gaza a day earlier when Israeli strikes hit the NGO’s convoy delivering food aid in Gaza Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 2, 2024.

Ali Jadallah | Anadolu | Getty Images

Seven employees of food charity World Central Kitchen were killed in an Israeli attack in Gaza overnight, the organization said in a statement on Tuesday morning, prompting it to suspend operations in the war-ravaged territory.

“World Central Kitchen is devastated to confirm that seven members of our team were killed in an IDF attack in Gaza,” the group said. “The WCK team was traveling in a conflict-free zone in two WCK-branded armored cars and a soft-skinned vehicle.”

“Although the movements were coordinated with the IDF, the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid that had been brought to Gaza by sea.”

The WCK said it would “immediately suspend our activities in the region” and “soon make decisions about the future of our work.”

In email comments attributed to spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military expressed “its deepest condolences to the families and the entire World Central Kitchen family of the Israel Defense Forces” and “sincere sadness to our allied nations who suffered this have done and continue to do.” do so much to help those in need.”

Hagari said that the IDF is “reviewing the incident at the highest level to understand the circumstances of what happened” and that it will “launch an investigation to further investigate this serious incident” to “help us reduce the risk of a “to reduce such events”. occur again.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deaths of aid workers were a “tragic case in which our forces inadvertently hit innocent people in the Gaza Strip.” This is what happens in war and we will study it to the end. We are in contact with the governments involved and we will do everything we can to ensure this does not happen again.”

Two men become emotional and comfort each other as they receive the bodies of World Central Kitchen workers killed by Israeli airstrikes in Rafah, Gaza, April 2, 2024.

Ahmad Hasaballah | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Footage of the attack’s aftermath provided by Reuters and Getty shows bloodied and mutilated bodies, some wearing T-shirts and protective gear from World Central Kitchen. One photo shows a white car with the organization’s logo on the roof and a large hole blown into it.

WCK was founded in 2010 by Michelin-starred celebrity chef Jose Andres as a food charity after a massive earthquake struck Haiti. Since then, it has provided hundreds of millions of meals in conflict zones around the world, including in Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, and in March helped deliver the first shipment of maritime aid from Cyprus to Gaza.

“This is not just an attack against WCK, it is an attack on humanitarian organizations that appear in the worst situations where food is used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable,” said the organization’s CEO, Erin Gore.

“Today @WCKitchen lost several of our sisters and brothers in an IDF airstrike in Gaza,” wrote WCK founder Andres. “I am heartbroken and mourn their families and friends and our entire WCK family…The Israeli government must stop this indiscriminate killing.”

According to WCK, the seven aid workers killed were from Australia, Poland, the United Kingdom, a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, and the Palestinian territories.

“A human tragedy”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed the death of 44-year-old Australian aid worker Lalzawmi Frankcom, telling the press in televised comments: “This is a human tragedy that should never have happened, this is completely unacceptable and Australia will seek full and appropriate responsibility.” “.”

Albanese called for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and more aid for those suffering “tremendous need.”

In a recorded video, Australian Lalzawmi Frankcom (l.) and Chef Oli (r.), employees of the US-based international volunteer aid organization World Central Kitchen (WCK), can be seen, who were killed in an Israeli attack on a WCK vehicle were taken before the attack in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on April 2, 2024.

World Central Kitchen | Handout | Anadolu | Getty Images

Other international leaders are also calling for accountability after the attack. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez made a statement while visiting a Palestinian refugee camp in Amman, Jordan. WCK’s founder, Jose Andres, is Spanish-American.

“I hope and demand that the Israeli government clarify as quickly as possible the circumstances of this brutal attack that claimed the lives of seven aid workers who did nothing other than help,” reports Sanchez after a visit to Jabal El- Hussein camp for Palestinian refugees in Amman.

“It is urgent that Israel grant access to humanitarian assistance in Gaza, as requested by various international bodies, including the International Court of Justice,” the Spanish leader added.

The Polish foreign minister also said he expected explanations from the Israeli government.

“I have personally asked Israeli Ambassador @YacovLivne for urgent explanations,” Radoslaw Sikorski wrote in a post on the social media platform X.

“He assured me that Poland would soon receive the results of the investigation into this tragedy,” he said, adding that the Polish government was launching its own investigation. “I extend my condolences to the family of our brave volunteer and all civilian victims in the Gaza Strip.”

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2024-04-02 13:24:30