World Central Kitchen Pauses Operations in Gaza After 7 Workers Killed

World Central Kitchen Pauses Operations in Gaza After 7 Workers Killed

The killings of the aid workers drew condemnation from governments around the world.Video

Seven workers for the aid group were killed overnight when their convoy was struck in Gaza.CreditCredit…Abdel Kareem Hana/Associated PressIsraeli strikes on an aid convoy in the Gaza Strip that killed seven workers for the charity group World Central Kitchen set off international outrage and prompted an unusual apology from the wartime Israeli government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has rejected almost unequivocally international criticism over his nation’s prosecution of the war against Hamas, said Tuesday night that Israel “deeply regrets the tragic incident.”

“Our hearts go out to their families and to their home countries,” Mr. Netanyahu said of the dead aid workers.

The World Central Kitchen workers were traveling in clearly marked cars when they came under fire. The workers included citizens of the United States, Poland, Australia and three from Britain.

The Israeli military has concluded it was responsible for the strike on the convoy, according to an army official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an internal investigation. Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the Israeli military chief of staff, was expected to review findings of an initial inquiry into the incident on Tuesday evening, the official said.

World Central Kitchen, which has become an important player in delivering supplies to a territory in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, said on Tuesday it was suspending its operations in the region. A second aid agency, American Near East Refugee Aid, said it too was suspending its operations in Gaza.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said the U.S. government had spoken to the Israeli authorities about the strike and urged a swift and impartial investigation. He offered praise for the aid workers.

“These people are heroes,” Mr. Blinken said. “They run into the fire, not away from it. They show the best of what humanity really has to offer when the going gets tough. They have to be protected.”

John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, said that the United States was “outraged” and that the attack was “emblematic of a larger problem.”

And David Cameron, the British foreign secretary, called the killings “completely unacceptable” and said, “Israel must urgently explain how this happened and make major changes to ensure the safety of aid workers.”

The war in the Gaza Strip has proved exceptionally dangerous for aid workers. At least 196 have been killed there since the fighting began on Oct. 7, according to the United Nations, citing a figure from March 20.

World Central Kitchen said in a statement that its team had been hit after unloading food at a warehouse in central Gaza and leaving in two armored cars and another vehicle. The group said the convoy was hit despite having coordinated its movements with the Israeli military.

A spokesman for Israel’s military, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said that Israel’s military “has been working closely with the World Central Kitchen to assist them in fulfilling their noble mission of helping bring food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.” The group had come to the aid of Israel after the attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, he said, describing it as being on the “front lines of humanity.”

Graphic video footage that circulated after the strike showed several bodies, some in protective gear with World Central Kitchen patches.

Reporting was contributed by Cassandra Vinograd, Damien Cave, Aric Toler, Anushka Patil, Daniel Victor, Victoria Kim and Natasha Frost.

What we know about the Israeli strike that killed seven aid workers.Image

A car used by World Central Kitchen that was hit by a strike in Deir al Balah in the central Gaza Strip.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesSeven aid workers with World Central Kitchen were killed in the Gaza Strip when their convoy came under fire on Monday night, according to the aid organization and Gazan health officials.

The disaster relief organization, founded by the Spanish chef José Andrés, said the convoy was hit in an Israeli strike. In a statement following the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel referred to a “tragic case of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people.” He said Israel was in touch with foreign governments over the episode.

Here’s what we know.

The convoy of three vehicles had just left a food warehouse.The World Central Kitchen staff members were leaving a warehouse in Deir al Balah, a city in the central Gaza Strip, when their convoy — two armored cars and a third vehicle — came under fire late Monday, the organization said in a statement.

The Israeli military had been informed of the aid workers’ movements, the charity said. Aid workers had just unloaded more than 100 tons of food brought to Gaza by sea at the warehouse, according to the group.

Videos and photos verified by The New York Times suggest the convoy was hit multiple times. The imagery shows three destroyed white vehicles, with the northernmost and southernmost vehicles nearly a mile and a half apart.

The World Central Kitchen logo could be seen on items inside the charred interiors of the northernmost and southernmost cars. The car in the middle was left with a gaping hole in its roof, which was clearly marked with the group’s logo. All three vehicles, though far apart from each other, were on or near the Al-Rashid coastal road.

It remained unclear on Tuesday morning what sort of munition struck the cars and whether those explosives were launched from the ground, a warplane or a drone.

Six foreign citizens and a Palestinian were killed.World Central Kitchen said one of those killed was a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, while the others were from Australia, Britain, Gaza and Poland.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia identified one of the victims as Zomi Frankcom, an Australian citizen and a senior manager at World Central Kitchen. “The tributes flowing for Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom tell the story of a life dedicated to the service of others, including her fellow Australians during natural disasters,” Penny Wong, the country’s foreign minister, said on social media.

Damian Sobol, an aid worker from the southeastern Polish city of Przemysl, died in the attack, according to the city’s mayor, Wojciech Bakun. “There are no words to describe what people who knew this fantastic guy feel at this moment,” he said in a post on social media.


Zomi Frankcom in March.Credit…World Central Kitchen, via ReutersImage

Damian Sobol, right, in an undated photo.Credit…Free Place Foundation, via Associated PressDavid Cameron, the British foreign secretary, said on social media that three of the aid workers who were killed were British citizens. The BBC reported their names: John Chapman, James Henderson and James Kirby. Local British media outlets described Mr. Chapman and Mr. Henderson as former Royal Marines who later turned to volunteer work.

Jacob Flickinger, who also died in the attack, was a 33-year-old dual citizen of the United States and Canada, according to the World Central Kitchen, and worked on the group’s relief team.

Palestinian medics retrieved the bodies of the seven victims and took them to a hospital in Deir al Balah, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society. The bodies of the foreigners were to be taken out of Gaza into Egypt,  » …
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