Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Aid workers including UK, US and Australian citizens killed in Israeli strike in Gaza

Seven members of a food aid charity have been killed in an Israeli attack in central Gaza, according to their organization. World Central Kitchen (WCK) announced in a statement on Tuesday morning that foreign nationals were among those killed in the raid.

The workers from the UK, Australia, Poland, Palestine, as well as a dual citizen of the US and Canada, were travelling in two armoured cars branded with the charity’s logo, according to WCK.

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese named the Australian national killed as Zomi Frankcom, and called her work “extraordinarily important”.

“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,” WCK said in its statement.

The charity will now pause its operations in the region and says it will make a decision about the future of its work.

The Israel Defense Forces has announced it is “conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident”.

“The IDF makes extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, and has been working closely with WCK in their vital efforts to provide food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza,” the statement added.

Albanese stated on Tuesday the government would call in the Israeli ambassador over an incident that was “beyond any reasonable circumstances”, adding: “Australia expects full accountability for the deaths of aid workers, which is completely unacceptable.”

Footage showed the bodies of five of the dead at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah. Several of them wore protective body armour with the charity’s logo. Hospital staff showed three passports belonging to the dead – British, Australian and Polish.

Chef José Andrés, the founder of WCK, said the charity “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. These are people…angels…I served alongside in Ukraine, Gaza, Turkey, Morocco, Bahamas, Indonesia. They are not faceless…they are not nameless.”

He added the Israeli government needed to “stop this indiscriminate killing”.

Medical officials stated the group had been helping to deliver food and other supplies to northern Gaza that had arrived hours early by ship.

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