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World Central Kitchen: 7 aid workers killed in Israeli strike

Seven aid workers with the World Central Kitchen were killed Monday in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, according to the nongovernmental organization.

The workers were leaving a warehouse in Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza, and driving in a “deconflicted zone” in two armored cars when the strike hit, the World Central Kitchen (WCK) said.

The NGO, founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, was working in war-torn Gaza, where more than 1 million people have exhausted their food supplies and are dealing with catastrophic hunger, per the United Nations.

The seven charity workers had delivered over 100 tons of food aid to the warehouse shortly before the incident and previously coordinated its movements with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), the WCK said.

Those killed in the strike were from Australia, Poland, the United Kingdom, Palestine and one was a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada.

“Unfortunately over the last day there was a tragic incident of an unintended strike of our forces on innocent people in the Gaza Strip,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. He added that officials are “checking this thoroughly” and “will do everything for this not to happen again.”

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for the IDF, said the military is opening an investigation to examine the incident.

“We have been reviewing the incident in the highest levels to understand the circumstances of what happened and how it happened,” Hagari said in a video message Tuesday.

“The world of WCK is critical. They are the frontlines of humanity. We will get to the bottom of this and we will share our findings transparency,” he added.

Andrés said he is “heartbroken” after the strike and called on the Israeli government to stop what he called “indiscriminate killing.”

“I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“They are not faceless…they are not nameless. The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing. It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon,” he added later. No more innocent lives lost. Peace starts with our shared humanity. It needs to start now.”

World Central Kitchen, which works in countries dealing with wars or natural disasters, said it will pause operations immediately in the region and will “be making decisions about the future of our work soon.”

“This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable,” CEO Erin Gore said in a statement.

The war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas has raged on for nearly six months following the group’s surprise incursion on southern Israel on Oct. 7. Hamas’s attacks killed 1,200 people in Israel, while around 250 others were taken hostage.

About 100 of these hostages were returned in a weeklong cease-fire late last year, and an estimated 100 others are believed to still be alive in Gaza.

Israel quickly launched a military campaign in October to destroy Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007. The Israeli bombardment of Gaza has killed more than 32,700 people since early October, the AP noted. 

National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said they are “deeply troubled,” by Monday’s strike.

“Humanitarian aid workers must be protected as they deliver aid that is desperately needed, and we urge Israel to swiftly investigate what happened,” she wrote on X.

–Updated at 8:11 a.m.

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