Israel airstrike on Gaza kills foreigners working for celebrity chef’s NGO

Citizens from Australia, Britain and Poland were among at least five people working for celebrity chef Jose Andres’ NGO, World Central Kitchen, who were killed in an Israeli airstrike in central Gaza on Monday, a Gaza government media official said.

The Israeli military said it was conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of what it called a 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 military said.

The Hamas-run Gaza government said at least one Palestinian was also killed in strike in the city of Deir al-Balah.

Andres, who started WCK in 2010 by sending cooks and food to Haiti after an earthquake, said he was heartbroken and grieving for the families and friends of those who died in the attack.

“The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing,” he said on social media. “It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon. No more innocent lives lost. Peace starts with our shared humanity. It needs to start now.”

In a statement, the Islamist group Hamas said the attack aimed to terrorise workers of international humanitarian agencies and deter them from pursuing their missions.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed the death of 44-year-old Australian aid worker Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom and said his government had contacted Israel to demand those responsible be held accountable.

“This is a human tragedy that should never have occurred, that is completely unacceptable and Australia will seek full and proper accountability,” he said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Albanese said innocent civilians and those doing humanitarian work needed to be protected and reiterated his call for a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza along with more aid to help those suffering from “tremendous deprivation.”

Video obtained by Reuters showed paramedics moving bodies into a hospital and displaying the passports of three of those killed.

“We are heartbroken and deeply troubled by the strike that killed @WCKitchen aid workers in Gaza,” U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said on social media.

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

The WCK delivers food relief and prepares meals for people in need. It said last month it had served more than 42 million meals in Gaza over 175 days.

In a video released by WCK, Frankcom is seen at what it said was the organisation’s Deir Al-Balah kitchen, with a chef showcasing prepared ingredients

Since starting operations in 2010, the organisation has delivered food for communities hit by natural disasters, refugees at the U.S. border, healthcare workers during the COVID pandemic and people in conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

Palestinian health officials said a separate Israeli air strike on a house killed six people in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians were sheltering.


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