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Seven WCK aid workers were killed by an Israeli airstrike. (Photo: PC, via social media)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

According to WCK, the team “was traveling in a deconflicted zone in two armored cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle”, when the attack occurred.

The NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) will be pausing its operations in the besieged Gaza Strip with immediate effect after seven members of its team were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Monday.

The seven killed were from Australia, Poland, United Kingdom, a dual citizen of the US and Canada, and Palestine, the organization said in a statement.

According to WCK, the team “was traveling in a deconflicted zone in two armored cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle”, when the attack occurred.

“Despite coordinating movements with the IDF (Israeli Army – PC), the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse (in central Gaza), where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route,” the statement said.

World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore said: “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.”

Gore added: “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.”

She said the “love they had for feeding people, the determination they embodied to show that humanity rises above all, and the impact they made in countless lives will forever be remembered and cherished.”

“World Central Kitchen is pausing our operations immediately in the region. We will be making decisions about the future of our work soon,” the statement said.

‘Stop Killing Aid Workers’

According to Gore, the Israeli military said it is “carrying out an in-depth examination at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident.”

The US-based WCK runs more than 60 kitchens in southern and central Gaza where it cooks “hundreds of thousands of meals each day,” the NGO said on its Instagram page.

WCK Founder, Michelin-staffed chef Jose Andres, said on X he was “heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family.”

“These are people…angels…I served alongside in Ukraine, Gaza, Turkey, Morocco, Bahamas, Indonesia. They are not faceless…they are not nameless,” he added. “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. No more innocent lives lost.”

This latest attack by Israel has been met with swift global condemnation.

‘Heroes’ Feeding the Starving

Martin Griffiths, the UN Humanitarian Chief, said he was “outraged” by the killings of the aid workers in Gaza.

“They were heroes, killed while trying to feed starving people,” Griffiths said. “All this talk about ceasefires, and still this war steals the best of us.”

He added: “The actions of those behind it are indefensible. This must stop.”

Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, said on X: “I condemn the attack and urge an investigation.”

“Despite all the demands to protect civilians and humanitarian workers, we see new innocent casualties,” Borrell added.

He further said: “This shows that the #UNSC resolution asking for an immediate ceasefire, a full humanitarian access and a reinforced protection of civilians must be immediately implemented.”

Australia Summons Ambassador

Australia has summoned Israel’s ambassador following the attack, as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed that one of the aid workers killed in the attack was an Australian national.

Albanese told reporters “We want full accountability for this because this is a tragedy that should never have occurred.”

“We certainly have already contacted the Israeli government directly,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted him as saying.

Spain Urges Clarification

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called on Israel to clarify the circumstances of the deaths of the seven aid workers.

“I hope and demand that the Israeli government clarifies as soon as possible the circumstances of this brutal attack that has taken the lives of seven aid workers who were doing nothing more than helping,” Sanchez said on Tuesday.

The PM is visiting Middle-Eastern countries including Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia reportedly to discuss the war in Gaza and business partnerships in the region.

Poland’s Condemnation

Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “deepest condolences to the family” of its citizen who was killed in the attack.

“Poland objects to the disregard for international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians, including humanitarian workers,” it said on X on Tuesday.

Israeli military spokesman, Daniel Hagari said: “We will be opening a probe to examine this serious incident further.”

Over 32,900 Killed

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 32,916 Palestinians have been killed, and 75,494 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire.’

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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