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Gaza: World Central Kitchen killings add to record aid death toll

The Israeli military’s killing of seven aid staff working for World Central Kitchen in the Gaza Strip is drawing condemnation from international governments and promises of an investigation by Israel. 


Those killed include citizens of Palestine, Australia, Poland, the UK, and a US-Canadian dual national. The incident is believed to be the first time international aid workers have been killed in Gaza since Israel began its military campaign in the enclave following the 7 October Hamas attacks. But at least 196 Palestinian aid workers had been killed before this – a record death toll that has prompted much less international scrutiny and outcry.


World Central Kitchen said an Israeli military strike hit a convoy that had just unloaded 100 tons of food aid. “This is unforgivable,” CEO Erin Gore said in a 2 April statement. Australia and the UK have summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their respective countries and called for accountability and more to be done to protect aid workers. The Israeli military said it was “opening a probe to examine this serious incident”.


The Israeli defence ministry did not respond to earlier requests by The New Humanitarian to discuss attacks on aid workers and infrastructure, including those reported by Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Rescue Committee, the Palestine Red Crescent, and the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.


World Central Kitchen was the first aid organisation to deliver food assistance to Gaza by sea in recent weeks and was one of the few organisations able to distribute supplies in northern Gaza. It has now suspended its activities. Around 1.1 million people in Gaza are facing imminent, man-made famine following Israel’s nearly six-month military campaign and siege. 


World Central Kitchen said it coordinated its movements with the Israeli military – a common practice known as deconfliction. Some NGOs say it has become safer not to update Israeli forces about their movements and assets. For more on World Central Kitchen, listen to this April 2023 episode of the Rethinking Humanitarianism podcast where we spoke to the organisation’s founder, celebrity chef José Andrés. And read more about Gaza’s unprecedented aid worker death toll here.

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