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‘They’re All Dead’: Israeli Strike Kills US, UK & Australian Aid Workers

by | Apr 2, 2024

‘They’re All Dead’: Israeli Strike Kills US, UK & Australian Aid Workers

by | Apr 2, 2024

World Central Kitchen aid worker gaza

The body of an aid worker killed in an Israeli airstrike is seen at the Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, April 1, 2024. (Credit: AP / Abdel Kareem Hana)

A number of foreign nationals were among seven aid workers killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip, including a dual US-Canadian citizen and others hailing from Britain, Australia and Poland, according to an American NGO. 

The workers were part of an international team helping to deliver meals to hungry refugees for World Central Kitchen (WCK), a Washington, DC-based non-profit. The humanitarian org detailed the lethal strike on one of its convoys in a statement issued early Tuesday morning.

“Despite coordinating movements with the IDF, the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route,” the press release said, noting the workers were traveling in “two armored cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle.” 

The group said it was forced to pause its operations in Gaza following the deadly attack.

WCK has yet to name those killed, but said the victims hailed from Australia, Poland, the UK and Palestine, while one worker was a dual US-Canadian citizen. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in al-Balah later identified the body of Saif Issam Abu-Taha, a Palestinian who reportedly worked as a driver and translator for the aid group.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also confirmed the death of 44-year-old Australian aid worker Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom during a press briefing on Tuesday, saying Canberra would demand punishment for those responsible. 

“This is a human tragedy that should never have occurred, that is completely unacceptable and Australia will seek full and proper accountability,” the PM said, adding that the Israeli ambassador had been summoned to address the bombing.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) initially offered only a brief comment vowing to probe the “tragic incident,” but later acknowledged that it was behind the strike on the aid convoy.

“I just spoke to WCK founder Chef Jose Anders, and expressed the deepest condolences of the Israel Defense Forces to the families and the entire World Central Kitchen family,” IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said in an English-language video statement.

He added that the IDF’s General Staff Fact-Finding Assessment Mechanism would carry out an investigation to “help us reduce the risk of such an event from occurring again,” and vowed to publish the findings “transparently.”

“As a professional military committed to international law, we are committed to examining our operations thoroughly and transparently,” the spokesman continued, though provided no additional details about the incident.

WCK’s chief executive Erin Gore has denounced the strike as a “targeted attack” and accused Israel of using food as a “weapon of war.” 

Unconfirmed footage making the rounds online was purported to show the aftermath of the bombing, with one car bearing the WCK logo seen with a gaping hole punched through its roof. Other graphic images were alleged to depict the bodies of some of the aid workers along with identifying documents, some seen wearing protective gear.

The moment the WCK employees were brought to the hospital was also captured on film, with distraught bystanders heard identifying the victims. “The ones who brought the aid in through the sea. They’re all dead!” one man says in disbelief.

The convoy was struck soon after it returned to Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, having finished retrieving aid from ships that arrived from Cyprus just hours earlier, according to Palestinian Red Crescent paramedic Mahmoud Thabet, who was on the team that brought the bodies to the hospital. The vessel carried 400 tons of food and other supplies, a shipment organized jointly by WCK and the United Arab Emirates. The IDF helped to coordinate the delivery, as well as past aid operations by the humanitarian org.

Cyprus will serve as a staging ground for a US-led project to construct a temporary pier on the Gaza coast, intended to facilitate aid shipments into the besieged enclave starting sometime this spring. Many details about the plan have been left unclear, however, and Israel’s repeated attacks on international teams distributing aid could cast further doubts on the initiative.

In addition to Canberra, several foreign states have demanded an investigation into the strike on WCK, with White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson saying she was “heartbroken and deeply troubled” by the news while urging Israel to “swiftly” probe the incident.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell similarly condemned the Israeli raid and urged for an investigation, saying “Despite all the demands to protect civilians and humanitarian workers, we see new innocent casualties.”

Will Porter

Will Porter

Will Porter is assistant news editor at the Libertarian Institute and a regular contributor at Antiwar.com. Find more of his work at Consortium News, ZeroHedge and RT.

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