Foreigners among World Central Kitchen staff killed in Israeli strike

Foreigners among World Central Kitchen staff killed in Israeli strike
Foreigners among World Central Kitchen staff killed in Israeli strike

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - GAZA — At least five aid workers, including foreigners, from a team delivering food to starving civilians in Gaza have been killed in an Israeli military strike, according to non-profit group World Central Kitchen and authorities in the besieged enclave.

Australia confirmed one of its nationals was among those killed.

Videos obtained by CNN show the bodies of multiple people wearing World Central Kitchen vests following an airstrike in the central city of Deir Al-Balah. Passports from Britain, Poland and Australia are seen in the footage.

World Central Kitchen provides meals to disaster-struck regions and communities. It is one of the few aid organizations delivering desperately needed food in Gaza where 2.2 million people do not have enough to eat, and where aid agencies warn half of the population is on the brink of starvation and famine due to Israel’s throttling of aid and widespread destruction.

World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés confirmed the five deaths to CNN.

“Today @WCKitchen lost several of our sisters and brothers in an IDF air strike in Gaza,” Andrés wrote on Twitter. “I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family.”

“The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing. It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon,” he added.

“These are people...angels...I served alongside in Ukraine, Gaza, Turkey, Morocco, Bahamas, Indonesia. They are not faceless...they are not nameless.”

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it is “conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident.”

“This is someone who volunteered in Australia to help people during the bushfires. This is someone who was volunteering overseas to provide aid through this charity for people who are suffering tremendous deprivation in Gaza,” Albanese said.

“Australia expects full accountability for the deaths of aid workers, which is completely unacceptable.”

He said the Australian government has already contacted the Israeli government directly, and that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had requested a “call-in” from the Israeli ambassador to Australia.

Hamas condemned the attack in a statement on Tuesday, urging the international community and the United Nations to “take action.”

“This crime once again confirms that the occupation continues its policy of deliberate killing of innocent civilians, international relief teams, and humanitarian organizations, in its efforts to terrorize those working in them and prevent them from carrying out their humanitarian duties,” it said in the statement.

Barak Ravid, a Middle East expert and CNN’s Political and Global Affairs Analyst, said his sources in Israel painted a picture of “confusion” and “embarrassment” after the World Central Kitchen workers’ deaths.

World Central Kitchen was “an NGO that that the IDF worked very closely with, because part of what World Central Kitchen did was to bring food to Gaza through the sea,” Ravid said.

“The IDF wanted to show that by working with this organization, it is addressing the food shortages in Gaza,” he added. “And now a few days later, the IDF allegedly hits ... aid workers from this organization.”

Ravid pointed out that this isn’t the first time aid workers have allegedly come under fire by Israeli forces. The vast majority of aid workers who have been killed have been Palestinians and their families.

Since the latest war began following Hamas’ October 7 murder and kidnap rampage through southern Israel, at least 165 workers with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) have been killed, the agency said last month.

The World Central Kitchen has made headlines in recent years for coordinating food relief for thousands of people after an earthquake devastated Haiti, Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, wildfires scorched Southern California, and a refugee crisis intensified on the Venezuelan border.

In March, the non-profit led an initiative to ship 200 tons of food aid to Gaza – which it said was the first maritime shipment of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian enclave.

The shipment included enough ingredients for 500,000 meals that World Central Kitchen planned to distribute in the strip, where hundreds of thousands people are on the brink of famine. — CNN

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