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Israeli airstrike on Gaza kills 7 working for food aid NGO

03-04-2024

GAZA CITY: Citizens from Australia, Britain and Poland were among seven people working for celebrity chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen who were killed in an Israeli airstrike in central Gaza on Monday, the NGO said.

The workers, who also included Palestinians and a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, were travelling in two armored cars emblazoned with the WCK logo and another vehicle, WCK said in a statement.

Israel has long denied it is hindering the distribution of urgently needed food aid in Gaza, saying the problem is caused by the inability of international aid groups to get it to those in need.

Despite coordinating movements with the Israeli Defence Force, the convoy was hit as it was leaving its Deir al-Balah warehouse, after unloading more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza by sea, WCK 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,” said Erin Gore, chief executive of World Central Kitchen.

“This is unforgivable.”

The Israeli military said it was doing a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of what it called a tragic incident and pledged an investigation by “an independent, professional and expert body”.

“The IDF makes extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, and has been working closely with WCK in their vital efforts to provide food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza,” the military said.

Israel has been under mounting international pressure to alleviate the severe hunger in Gaza, which has been devastated by months of fighting that has laid waste to much of the enclave and forced most of the population from their homes.

The United Nations and other international groups have accused Israel of hindering aid distribution with bureaucratic obstacles and failing to ensure the security of food convoys, underlined by a disaster on Feb. 29, in which around 100 people were killed as they waited for an aid delivery.

Hamas, the Islamist group that controlled Gaza, has said the main problem with aid distribution was Israeli targeting of aid workers. Following the latest incident, it issued a statement saying the attack aimed to terrorize workers of international humanitarian agencies, deterring them from their missions.

Last week, the World Court ordered Israel to take all necessary and effective action to ensure basic food supplies to the enclave’s Palestinian population and halt spreading famine.

In response, Israeli officials accused the United Nations and other international bodies of “failure” over the problems in getting aid to hungry people in Gaza, saying they lack the logistical capacity to perform their jobs.

Andres, who started WCK in 2010 by sending cooks and food to Haiti after an earthquake, earlier said he was heartbroken and grieving for the families and friends of those who died. (Int’l News Desk)

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