Israeli airstrike claims lives of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza

The team was leaving a warehouse in the city of Deir al-Balah after unloading over 100 tons of food intended for distribution to Palestinians in dire need.

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A tragic event unfolded in Gaza as a targeted Israeli airstrike resulted in the deaths of seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen (WCK), a Washington, D.C.-based humanitarian organization. The team was leaving a warehouse in the city of Deir al-Balah after unloading over 100 tons of food intended for distribution to Palestinians in dire need.

The deceased included a diverse group of individuals: A dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, along with Australian, Polish, British nationals, and a Palestinian staffer named Saif Abu Taha.

WCK’s CEO, Erin Gore, expressed profound grief and outrage over the incident. The organization’s statement highlighted the attack’s deliberate nature, given that the convoy’s vehicles, clearly marked with WCK’s logo and operating in a deconflicted zone, had their movements coordinated with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Gore’s words painted a picture of a humanitarian mission turned tragic: “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.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called for “full accountability” following the confirmation that Australian citizen Zomi Frankcom was among the casualties. The U.S. National Security Council, through spokesperson Adrienne Watson, also expressed being “heartbroken and deeply troubled by the strike,” emphasizing the need for Israel to thoroughly investigate the incident.

WCK’s mission has always been to provide relief in disaster zones, offering not just food but a beacon of hope. Under the leadership of celebrity chef José Andrés, the organization has been at the forefront of emergency food relief, amassing and delivering hundreds of tons of food to Gaza amid a worsening famine, exacerbated by the Israeli government’s blockade.

This incident is not isolated but rather part of a distressing pattern of IDF attacks on humanitarian workers. Recent months have seen the loss of staffers from United Nations agencies, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, Doctors Without Borders, and now WCK. Each attack raises serious questions about the rules of engagement and the protection afforded to humanitarian missions under international law.

In the wake of this tragedy, WCK announced an immediate pause in its operations within the region, with future endeavors under consideration. José Andrés expressed his sorrow on social media, mourning the colleagues he worked alongside in various global disaster zones. His poignant message called out the Israeli government’s actions and urged an end to the indiscriminate killing and the restriction of humanitarian aid.

The outcry following the airstrike transcends borders and politics, uniting voices in a call for change. Advocates, officials, and concerned citizens worldwide demand a thorough investigation, stringent accountability, and reinforced measures to safeguard aid workers serving as lifelines in conflict-stricken regions.

Erin Gore’s states: “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.”

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