Seven humanitarian workers associated with the World Central Kitchen were fatally hit by an Israeli airstrike, as reported by the NGO.Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/AP

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During this period, Israel launched three missiles towards a convoy of the World Central Kitchen (WCK), causing the demise of seven individuals who were distributing food supplies in Gaza. According to the organization, the strike targeted marked vehicles and the group was established by chef José Andrés, renowned for providing meals in crisis zones globally.

Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, narrated a grim scenario: After survivors of the initial two strikes switched to alternate vehicles to evade the attack, Israeli forces launched a third missile. As per “defense sources” mentioned in the article, the intended target, a member of Hamas, was absent from the vehicles struck.

A video that was shared by a correspondent from the Washington Post revealed that the explosives were released directly onto the aid group’s emblem on the vehicle’s roof.

 

In a declaration, CEO of World Central Kitchen, Erin Gore, labeled the assault as “unpardonable.” 

“This is not solely an assault on WCK,” expressed Gore, “but a strike against humanitarian organizations extending assistance in the direst situations where food is exploited as a weapon of conflict.” 

As highlighted by my colleague Noah Lanard, the primary humanitarian support entity in Gaza, UNRWA, has been severely impaired, intensifying a critical humanitarian crisis triggered by a military operation that has claimed more than 32,000 lives.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denoted the incident as an “unintentional strike” and a “tragic occurrence.” A representative of the Israel Defense Forces stated that investigations are underway and a commitment to transparently share their findings has been made.

World Central Kitchen has announced a temporary cessation of its relief efforts in Gaza post the attacks and intends to deliberate on the prospects of its operations shortly. The organization verified that it has supplied more than 43 million meals to Palestinian individuals, a report by the Associated Press indicates. This suspension amidst WCK’s activities coincides with the UN’s warning of an impending famine in Gaza.

As per Haaretz, this is not the first instance where WCK has been targeted:

On the past Saturday, an IDF sniper discharged a firearm at a [WCK] vehicle en route to a food storage facility in the Khan Yunis area. While the car’s windshield was struck, the volunteer inside remained unharmed.

Following the occurrence, World Central Kitchen expeditiously reported the incident to the IDF, urging the military to cease gunfire towards its personnel and ensure their well-being during food distribution in the Gaza Strip, a process meticulously coordinated. The IDF chose not to respond to the inquiry made by the organization concerning the incident.

Another aid organization active in Gaza, Anera, declared a halting of their operations in response to the Israeli drone strike. The group disclosed that the unresolved fatality of one of their workers, Mousa Shawwa, less than a month ago, poses questions.

The deceased WCK humanitarian workers hailed from Australia, Poland, the United Kingdom, and Palestine, including a citizen holding dual nationality from the United States and Canada. Andrés expressed in a post on X that he is “devastated and mourning for their relatives and acquaintances.”

He continued: “The Israeli government must cease these indiscriminate killings. It must discontinue the hindrance of humanitarian aid, prevent the slaughter of civilians and aid workers, and terminate the exploitation of food as a weapon.”

A spokesperson from the National Security Council expressed their profound sorrow and concern over the strike, emphasizing, “Humanitarian aid workers need to be safeguarded while providing necessary aid, and we urge Israel to rapidly investigate the events.”

UNRWA mentioned on Tuesday that 176 of its personnel have been fatalities during the conflict, with various incidents involving on-duty casualties.

Additional reporting by Noah Lanard.