Seven aid workers die in Gaza

Henry

An American charity, World Central Kitchen, has summarily suspended its operations in Gaza after seven of its staff members died in a “targeted Israeli attack” on Monday.

The employees were targeted shortly after unloading food supplies at a warehouse.

The victims were citizens of Australia, Poland, the United Kingdom, Palestine and a person with dual citizenship of the US and Canada.

World Central Kitchen says its team was traveling in a convoy of, among other things, two armored vehicles with the organization’s logo on them in a perceived conflict-free zone when it was hit.

“Despite coordinating movement with the (Israeli army), the convoy was hit as it left the warehouse in Deir al-Balah, where the team unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought on the maritime route to Gaza ,” says World Central Kitchen.

The food supply arrived in Gaza from Cyprus just earlier in the day on a boat and two salvage vessels using humanitarian sea passage.

“This is not just an attack on World Central Kitchen,” says Erin Gore, chief executive of the charity. “This is an attack on humanitarian organizations that arrive in the worst situations where food is used as a weapon of war. It is unforgivable.”

The Israeli army meanwhile said a thorough investigation was being carried out “at the highest levels” “to determine the circumstances of this tragic incident”.

The army also added that it was “working closely with World Central Kitchen” in the effort to provide aid to Palestinians.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has since confirmed that Australian citizen Zomi Frankcom was one of the victims. “This is completely unacceptable,” Albanese said.

The bodies of Frankcom and his associates were taken to a hospital mortuary in the central town of Deir al-Balah on Monday.

An AFP journalist says that one of the workers’ bodies was lying on the floor on a makeshift stretcher yesterday. The worker was still wearing a top clearly marked with the World Central Kitchen name and logo.

Three foreign passports lay near the body.

Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the US National Security Council, says the White House is “heartbroken and deeply disturbed by the attack”.

“Humanitarian aid workers must be protected as they provide much-needed aid,” reads an entry from Watson on X.