World Central Kitchen announced on Tuesday that seven of its team members in Gaza lost their lives in an Israeli strike, prompting an immediate cessation of its operations in the region. Among those tragically killed were a U.S.-Canadian dual national, at least one Palestinian staff member, and individuals from Australia, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

The team was traversing through a “DE conflicted zone” in vehicles, including two armored cars bearing the World Central Kitchen logo. Despite coordinating movements with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the convoy came under attack as it departed the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where over 100 tons of humanitarian food aid had been unloaded after arriving in Gaza via maritime route.

CEO Erin Gore condemned the strike as “unforgivable,” denouncing it as an assault not only on WCK but on humanitarian organizations striving to provide aid amid the dire circumstances of the conflict. Gore labeled it a “targeted attack by the IDF.”

While the IDF acknowledged reports of the incident on Monday and initiated a thorough review, the World Central Kitchen statement refrained from identifying the deceased. However, Damian Soból was identified as one of the victims by the mayor of Przemyśl, Poland, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese mourned the loss of aid worker Lalzawmi Frankcom.

Another victim was revealed to be a Palestinian man, who served as the aid workers’ driver at the time of the strike, as disclosed in a news conference at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.

This incident marks a tragic milestone, potentially representing the first time foreign national aid workers have been killed in Gaza since the onset of the conflict on October 7. Meanwhile, a significant number of Palestinians employed by the United Nations have lost their lives during the ongoing conflict.

In response to the devastating loss, World Central Kitchen founder and renowned chef José Andrés expressed grief and solidarity, referring to the deceased as his “sisters and brothers” and “angels” in a heartfelt statement on social media.

José Andrés asserted, “The Israeli government must cease its indiscriminate killings, lift restrictions on humanitarian aid, refrain from targeting civilians and aid workers, and cease weaponizing food.” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson echoed this sentiment, urging Israel to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and emphasizing the imperative of protecting humanitarian workers delivering vital aid.

Amid mounting pressure from the United States and other Western allies regarding the humanitarian toll of the conflict, as well as concerns about adherence to international humanitarian law, Israel finds itself under scrutiny. Last week, the International Court of Justice issued an order directing Israel to take decisive action to ensure the provision of essential services and humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the enclave.


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