World Central Kitchen suspends work in Gaza after foreign employees die in airstrike

World Central Kitchen suspends work in Gaza after foreign employees die in airstrike
World Central Kitchen suspends work in Gaza after foreign employees die in airstrike
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The employees, including four foreign aid workers, were killed on Monday when their vehicles were hit after delivering food and other aid in Deir al Balah. The Israeli army is investigating who was responsible for the attack.

But the aid agency said the convoy was the target of a “targeted attack” by the Israeli army. “This is not just an attack on WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations that show up in the most dire situations where food is used as a weapon of war,” said the NGO’s board chair Erin Gore. “This is unforgivable.”

Erin provided no further information indicating that Israel was responsible for the attack. Three victims have British, Australian and Polish nationalities. An aid worker with American-Canadian nationality and the Palestinian driver were also among the dead.

Research

The Israeli military initially said it was conducting “a thorough investigation at the highest level” to “understand the circumstances of this tragic incident.” It would not confirm whether Israeli planes, drones or helicopters were responsible for the attack. Later, army spokesman Daniel Hagari said an “independent, expert body” would investigate the attack.

Hagari said he spoke with WCK founder, Spanish-American chef Jose Andrés, to offer condolences to the victims’ families. “We also express our sincere sorrow to our allies who have done and continue to do so much to help those in need,” Hagari said.

Israel says it has always ‘worked closely with WCK’ for the distribution of aid to the people of Gaza. “WCK’s work is critical,” Hagari said.

Armored vehicles

The aid organization says the employees rode in two armored vehicles clearly bearing the WCK logo. Their journey was also coordinated with the Israeli army. The employees had recently left a warehouse where they had delivered 100 tons of food and other humanitarian supplies brought in by sea.

A video published by Palestinian media shows a large hole in the roof of one vehicle. A second vehicle from the convoy was completely burned out. Australia, Spain and Poland quickly demand clarity from Israel as to who was responsible for the attack. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he was ‘shocked’. WCK was founded by Spanish-American chef Jose Andrés.

“I hope and demand that the Israeli government provides clarification as soon as possible about the circumstances surrounding this brutal attack that claimed the lives of seven aid workers who did nothing but help,” Sánchez said after a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan. His Australian colleague Anthony Albanese confirmed that Australian aid worker Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom had been killed.

Emergency aid

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron called on Israel to “provide a full, transparent explanation of what happened.” Cameron said: ‘It is essential that humanitarian workers are protected and able to carry out their work. The Polish government has opened an investigation into the death of a Polish volunteer. “Poland objects to the disregard for international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians, including humanitarian workers,” the foreign ministry said.

World Central Kitchen is involved in the delivery of emergency aid to the Gaza Strip by boat from Cyprus and the construction of a temporary jetty. The first ship was able to dock and unload in mid-March under the supervision of the Israeli army. Last month, the organization announced it had served more than 42 million meals in Gaza in 175 days.

Chef Jose Andrés started the WCK in 2010 by sending chefs and food to earthquake-stricken Haiti. Since then, the organization has been delivering food to communities affected by natural disasters, refugees at the US border, healthcare workers during the Covid pandemic and people in conflict zones such as Ukraine and Gaza.

Andrés stated on X that ‘WCK lost several sisters and brothers today in an airstrike by the Israeli army in Gaza’. “The Israeli government must stop these indiscriminate killings,” he wrote. “She must stop restricting humanitarian aid, killing civilians and aid workers and using food as a weapon. No more innocent lives lost. Peace begins with our shared humanity. It has to start now.’

The article is in Dutch

Tags: World Central Kitchen suspends work Gaza foreign employees die airstrike

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