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Israel Kills 7 World Central Kitchen Staff in Gaza, Forcing Temporary Suspension of Operations

The Israel military said it is carrying out ‘an in-depth examination at the highest levels’ to understand the circumstances of the deadly airstrike.

The World Central Kitchen (WCK), a U.S.-based non-governmental organization, said on Tuesday that it was pausing aid operations in Gaza after seven of its team members were killed in an Israeli airstrike.

The WCK said that its aid workers were traveling in “a deconflicted zone” in two armored cars carrying the organization’s logo as well as “a soft skin vehicle” when the airstrike occurred.

It said that despite coordinating movements with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded over 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought into Gaza on the maritime route.

The seven team members killed include a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, a Palestinian, as well as citizens of Australia, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

“I am heartbroken and appalled that we—World Central Kitchen and the world—lost beautiful lives today because of a targeted attack by the IDF,” WCK CEO Erin Gore said in a statement.

The WCK has decided to pause its operations in Gaza following the deadly airstrike and said it will assess the future of its operations there.

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“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. This is unforgivable,” Ms. Gore said.

IDF Launches ‘In-Depth Examination At Highest Level’

The IDF said in a statement that it has launched “an in-depth examination at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident.”

IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said that he had spoken with WCK founder José Andrés following the incident and expressed his “deepest condolences” to the victims’ families.

“We will be opening a probe to examine this serious incident further. This will help us reduce the risk of such an event from occurring again,” he said in a video address.

Mr. Hagari said the IDF has been working closely with the organization to assist them in delivering food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza in the past months.

“The work of WCK is critical, they are on the frontlines of humanity. We will get to the bottom of this and we will share our findings transparently,” he stated.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PCRS) said it has recovered the seven bodies in a “challenging operation spanning several hours.” Two of the bodies were initially missing but were later located, it stated.

In a statement on social media platform X, PCRS said the bodies were sent to hospitals in preparation for their evacuation through the Rafah border crossing in southern Gaza.

Mr. Andrés has expressed grief over the loss of “several of our sisters and brothers in an IDF air strike in Gaza” and urged the Israeli government to end its “indiscriminate killing.”

“These are people… angels… I served alongside in Ukraine, Gaza, Turkey, Morocco, Bahamas, Indonesia. They are not faceless … they are not nameless,” Mr. Andrés stated on X.
“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,” he added.

Australia Demands ‘Full Accountability’

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the deaths of aid workers are “completely unacceptable” and demanded “full accountability.”

“The truth is that this is beyond any reasonable circumstances, that someone going about providing aid and humanitarian assistance should lose their life,” the Australian leader said.

Mr. Albanese identified the Australian aid worker killed in the airstrike as Zomi Frankcom and said that his government had already contacted the Israeli government directly.

“Australia will seek full and proper accountability, as you would expect, for how this could have occurred,” he said.

Mr. Albanese also called for “a sustainable ceasefire” in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. “Australians want to see an end to this conflict,” he said.

US, UK Call For Investigation

White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the United States is “deeply troubled” by the aid workers’ deaths and urged the Israeli government to launch a probe.

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

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron has urged Israel to immediately investigate and “provide a full, transparent explanation” about the deadly airstrike.

“British Nationals are reported to have been killed, we are urgently working to verify this information and will provide full support to their families,” Mr. Cameron said in a statement.

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

Hamas fighters killed about 1,200 people and captured more than 250 hostages during their Oct. 7, 2023, attack, triggering Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry has stated that over 30,000 people have died in Gaza, of which Israel says more than 10,000 were Hamas soldiers.

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