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World Central Kitchen workers go all over the world; 7 killed in Gaza

Palestinians are standing next to a vehicle in Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, on April 2, 2024

Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto) (Photo by MAJDI FATHI / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP

J-P Mauro - published on 04/04/24

Celebrity chef and founder of the WCK José Andrés condemned the tragic occurrence, which prevented the delivery of 300 tons of food to Gaza

Seven aid workers bringing food to Gaza through the World Central Kitchen (WCK), a US-based non-profit best known for providing meals to victims of natural disasters, were killed in an air strike by the Israel Defense Force (IDF). The incident, which Israel has called “unintentional,” has drawn demands for an investigation from world leaders, as well as renewed calls for a ceasefire. 

The WCK organized quickly after the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas. The AP reports that celebrity chef and founder of the WCK, José Andrés, has procured enormous shipments of food to be delivered to Gaza from Cyprus. For months the WCK has been distributing thousands of meals per day through 60 kitchens set up throughout Gaza.

In a guest essay in the New York Times, Andrés wrote:

The seven people killed on a World Central Kitchen mission in Gaza on Monday were the best of humanity. They are not faceless or nameless. They are not generic aid workers or collateral damage in war.

Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, John Chapman, Jacob Flickinger, Zomi Frankcom, James Henderson, James Kirby and Damian Sobol risked everything for the most fundamentally human activity: to share our food with others.

The strike occurred on Monday, April 1, while the aid workers were offloading 400 tons of food from three ships. The WCK workers had just finished transferring about 100 tons of the food to a warehouse when a WCK vehicle was hit by an airstrike. The vehicle, which was part of a convoy of vehicles marked with the WCK logo, contained four members of the WCK relief team and three members of its security.According to the WCK, these workers came from the UK, Australia, Poland, Palestine, and one dual US-Canadian citizen.

Andrés was quick to condemn the action on social media, expressing his grief on X and calling for an end to the killing and greater access to humanitarian aid:

In response to the incident, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video in which he said: 

“Unfortunately in the past day there was a tragic event in which our forces unintentionally harmed non-combatants in the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said. “This happens in war. We are conducting a thorough inquiry and are in contact with the governments. We will do everything to prevent a recurrence.”

Reuters points out that these are not the first aid workers to become casualties of this conflict. It is estimated that 196 humanitarian aid workers, many of them volunteers, have been killed in Gaza since October. 

At his Wednesday audience, Pope Francis took a moment to comment on the tragic events: 

“I express deep regret for the volunteers killed while they were engaged in distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza. I pray for them and their families,” Francis said during his weekly audience.

The Pope went on to renew his call for a ceasefire, as well as for the return of all Israeli hostages taken into Gaza and the reopening of corridors for aid. Since the attack, the three ships – along with the remaining 300 tons of food – have been forced to return to Cyprus and the WCK’s involvement in Gaza has been put on hold. 

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