Seven aid workers killed in Israeli airstrike in Gaza Strip, including six foreigners

Seven aid workers killed in Israeli airstrike in Gaza Strip, including six foreigners
Seven aid workers killed in Israeli airstrike in Gaza Strip, including six foreigners
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According to World Central Kitchen, the NGO for which the victims worked to supply food in the Gaza Strip, the seven were in two armored cars bearing the NGO’s logo and a third vehicle. According to the NGO, that convoy had just left a warehouse in Deir al Balah, in the center of the Gaza Strip, where they had unloaded more than 100 tons of food aid. Immediately after their departure they were reportedly targeted by an Israeli airstrike.

“Three of them have British, Australian and Polish nationalities,” Hamas said. It also distributed images of three (bloodied) passports of the victims. A fourth foreign victim appears to have dual Canadian and American nationality. A fifth victim was a Palestinian driver/interpreter employed by the NGO. It is not yet clear about the nationality of the two other victims, but according to World Central Kitchen they are two foreigners.

Circumstances unclear

World Central Kitchen is an American NGO involved in the delivery of emergency aid to the Gaza Strip by boat from Cyprus, and in the construction of a temporary jetty in the Gaza Strip. The first ship was able to moor there in mid-March and be unloaded under the supervision of the Israeli army.

The NGO coordinates its activities with the Israeli army. It is still unclear why and how this convoy was attacked. According to Hamas, this is a deliberate act by Israel, which would like to deter aid workers in this way.

World Central Kitchen has already decided to temporarily halt all work in the region. The organization said it delivered 42 million meals to those in need in the Gaza Strip in the past 175 days.

© Twitter

World Central Kitchen: “This is unforgivable”

World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés stated on Twitter that “WCK lost several sisters and brothers today in an Israeli army airstrike in Gaza.” “The Israeli government must stop these indiscriminate killings,” it continues. “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.”

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“This is not just an attack on World Central Kitchen, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations working in the worst situations imaginable where food is used as a weapon of war,” CEO Erin Gore also lashed out at Israel. “This is inexcusable.”

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Australia summons Israeli ambassador

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has confirmed the death of an Australian woman. He praised the “extremely valuable” work carried out by Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom, 44, and said Australia would investigate who was responsible. The Israeli ambassador would already be summoned.

“This is a human tragedy that should never have happened,” Albanese said. “This is completely unacceptable and Australia will fully bring those responsible to justice. Citizens and emergency workers must be protected. I reiterate my call for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, with more aid supplies for the people suffering enormous hardship.”

Frankcom is from Melbourne. Her family said in a statement that they “deeply mourn our brave and beloved Zomi, who was killed while doing the work she loved so much. She was a kind, selfless and wonderful woman who traveled the world helping those in need. She leaves behind a legacy of compassion, courage, and love for all who knew her.”

Israel investigates incident “at the highest level”

The US government also said it was “deeply saddened and deeply disturbed” by the news. “Humanitarian workers must be protected as they provide much-needed assistance (to the Palestinians). We call on Israel to immediately investigate what happened,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.

The Israeli army said it is “investigating the tragic incident at the highest level to understand the circumstances” and assured that it has “worked closely with WCK” for the distribution of aid to the people of Gaza.

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An employee mourns over the body of a colleague.

An employee mourns over the body of a colleague. — © REUTERS

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