'Several' aid workers killed in Israeli strike in Gaza: NGO leader

‘Several’ aid workers killed in Israeli strike in Gaza: NGO leader

/ 12:01 PM April 02, 2024

Palestinians walk through the destruction left by the Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip

Palestinians walk through the destruction left by the Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip near Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Monday, April 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Hajjar)

Washington, United States — An Israeli strike killed several people working for US-based charity World Central Kitchen in the Gaza Strip on Monday, according to the organization’s founder.

World Central Kitchen “lost several of our sisters and brothers in an IDF air strike in Gaza. I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family,” chef Jose Andres posted on social media site X.

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Earlier, the Gaza health ministry had said the bodies of four foreign aid workers and their Palestinian driver were brought to the hospital in the central town of Deir el-Balah after an Israeli strike targeted their vehicle.

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Hamas said in a statement that the aid workers included “British, Australian and Polish nationalities, with the fourth nationality not known”, and that the fifth person killed was a Palestinian driver and translator.

US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the White House was “heartbroken and deeply troubled by the strike.”

“Humanitarian aid workers must be protected as they deliver aid that is desperately needed, and we urge Israel to swiftly investigate what happened,” she wrote on X.

The Israeli military said in a statement that it was “conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident”, adding that it had been “working closely with WCK” in the effort to provide aid to Palestinians.

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At the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir el-Balah, an AFP correspondent saw five bodies with three foreign passports lying nearby.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Tuesday confirmed one of the killed aid workers was Australian national Zomi Frankcom.

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

Emergency services work at a building hit by an air strike in Damascus, Syria, Monday, April 1, 2024.

Emergency services work at a building hit by an air strike in Damascus, Syria, Monday, April 1, 2024. An Israeli airstrike that demolished Iran’s consulate in Damascus Monday killed two Iranian generals and five officers, Syrian and Iranian officials said Monday. (AP Photo/Omar Sanadiki)

World Central Kitchen has been involved in delivering the aid arriving by boat from Cyprus, and in the construction of a temporary jetty in Gaza.

Since Hamas’s October 7 attack, Gaza has been under a near-complete blockade, with the United Nations accusing Israel of preventing deliveries of humanitarian assistance urgently needed by all 2.4 million Palestinians.

UN agencies have warned repeatedly that northern Gaza is on the verge of famine, calling the situation a man-made crisis because aid lorries are backed up on the Egypt-Gaza border awaiting long checks by Israeli officials. Israel has denied responsibility.

The bloodiest-ever Gaza war erupted with Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack, which resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

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Israel’s retaliatory campaign, aimed at destroying Hamas, has killed at least 32,845 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

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