Israeli airstrike kills 7 World Central Kitchen staff in Gaza

Aid group World Central Kitchen (WCK) said Tuesday an Israeli airstrike killed seven of its personnel in Gaza, and that the group is immediately pausing its work in the region.

WCK said in a statement that it had completed a delivery of 100 tons of food aid to a warehouse in Deir al-Balah, and that a convoy of two armored cars with the group’s logo was leaving the site when it was struck.

WCK said the airstrike happened despite coordinating its movements with the Israeli military.

Those killed include a Palestinian, citizens of Australia, Poland, Britain and a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, the group said.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said it recovered the seven bodies Tuesday in a “challenging operation spanning several hours,” and that they were taken to hospitals in preparation for being evacuated through the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza.

World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore called the attack “unforgivable.”

“This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war,” Gore said.

WCK founder José Andrés said on social media he was “heartbroken and grieving” after losing “several of our sister and brothers in an IDF strike in Gaza.”

“The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing,” Andrés said. “It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon. No more innocent lives lost. Peace starts with our shared humanity. It needs to start now.”

The group had begun using a maritime route to bring badly needed food to Gaza, where humanitarian groups have complained of shipments on trucks being held up by the Israeli military and a lack of safe access to areas where people are in need of help.

U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said Tuesday he is “outraged” by the attack and called the actions of those responsible “indefensible.”

“All this talk about cease-fires, and still this war steals the best of us,” Griffiths said in a statement.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed Tuesday the death of an Australian aid worker, Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom, saying his government expects “full accountability.”

“This is a human tragedy that should never have occurred that is completely unacceptable,” Albanese told reporters.

Albanese said humanitarian workers and all innocent civilians “need to be provided with protection.”

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on social media he asked Israel’s ambassador to Poland for an urgent explanation. Sikorski also expressed condolences to the family of the Polish worker killed and to all civilian victims in the Gaza Strip.

White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the United States is “heartbroken and deeply troubled” by the deadly strike.

“Humanitarian aid workers must be protected as they deliver aid that is desperately needed, and we urge Israel to swiftly investigate what happened,” Watson said on X.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Tuesday his country’s government was working to verify reported deaths of British nationals in the strike.

“These were people who were working to deliver life-saving aid to those who desperately need it,” Cameron said in a statement. “It is essential that humanitarian workers are protected and able to carry out their work.”

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell condemned the attack and called for an investigation.

“Despite all the demands to protect civilians and humanitarian workers, we see new innocent casualties,” Borrell said.

Israel launched its aggression to supposedly fight Hamas after the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people according to Israeli tallies and led to the capture of about 250 hostages.

Israel’s invasion into Gaza has killed more than 32,900 people, two-thirds of them women and children, according to Gaza Health Ministry.

Source: VOA

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