How World Central Kitchen serves Israel’s genocidal agenda

Israel’s precisely targeted attack on a convoy of vehicles, killing seven personnel from World Central Kitchen, has generated global outrage and sympathy for the nonprofit whose stated mission is to feed people in dire circumstances.

There can be no justification for Israel’s murder of these individuals and they and their families deserve the same accountability and justice owed to the tens of thousands of Palestinian victims of Israel’s ongoing genocide.

An immediate effect of the attack is that several humanitarian groups suspended operations in Gaza, a move aimed at ensuring the safety of their personnel, but which can only exacerbate the deliberate famine caused by Israel.

A reasonable assumption is that this was Israel’s goal: to make sure that no one in Gaza eats, in line with Tel Aviv’s announcement right at the beginning of its genocide that it was imposing a total siege, blocking all food, water, medicine and other means of sustenance to the 2.3 million people Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant called “human animals.”

Imposing Israel’s will

Yet Israel’s relationship with World Central Kitchen is more complicated – and gives rise to a great deal of reasonable suspicion among Palestinians.

The key question is why Israel – despite killing its staff – has favored World Central Kitchen and its staunchly pro-Israel founder, celebrity chef José Andrés, even as Tel Aviv sabotages other aid efforts, particularly those of UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees.

I discussed this with my colleagues Nora Barrows-Friedman, Jon Elmer and Asa Winstanley in the video above, excerpted from this week’s Electronic Intifada livestream.

In this article I elaborate on and document some of the observations we made.

In early March, the very same Yoav Gallant, who took the decision to starve Gaza, welcomed plans spearheaded by World Central Kitchen to start bringing aid into the territory via an Israeli-supervised maritime corridor.

“We will bring the aid through a maritime route that is coordinated with the US on the security and humanitarian side, with the assistance of the UAE [United Arab Emirates] on the civil side, and appropriate inspection in Cyprus, and we will bring goods imported by international organizations with American assistance,” Gallant explained.

World Central Kitchen’s operations in Gaza have indeed been sponsored by the UAE.

“The process is designed to bring aid directly to the residents and thus continue the collapse of Hamas’ rule in Gaza,” Gallant asserted.

Trojan horse

Tel Aviv and Washington see World Central Kitchen as a tool to achieve Israel’s long-standing goal of displacing and destroying UNRWA and installing a new Israeli-controlled regime in Gaza.

UNRWA is the only organization with the infrastructure in Gaza to meet the needs of the entire population if it were allowed to work unimpeded. But this is not what Israel and the United States want.

In recent weeks, Israeli media reported that Israel is “pushing for the establishment of an international peacekeeping force to secure the Gaza Strip and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.”

But this is only a cover for so-called “day after” plans aimed at reimposing permanent Israeli occupation on the Gaza Strip.

Under this plan “the force would be composed of troops from three different unnamed Arab countries” and be “managed by the United States.”

“The force would likely be armed to uphold law and order and would work with Gazans who don’t have links to Hamas, ostensibly figures linked to the Palestinian Authority,” according to The Times of Israel. The goal is to create a collaborator regime similar to the Israeli-backed Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank.

In this scenario, a US and Israeli-approved “humanitarian” organization like World Central Kitchen is the perfect trojan horse to help bring a new collaborationist leadership to Gaza.

Just days before Israel murdered its staff, World Central Kitchen tried to distance itself from such Israeli-American schemes.

“WCK is not pushing a political agenda and we are not replacing any of the other organizations in Gaza, despite reporting and claims suggesting otherwise,” the group asserted on 28 March.

But that is not what the record shows.

Destroying UNRWA

First, why does Israel want to get rid of UNRWA?

Israel has demonized the UN agency for years, despite the fact that it relieves Israel of the major responsibility and cost of providing for the basic health, education and humanitarian needs of millions of Palestinian refugees living under its military occupation and system of apartheid.

Destroying UNRWA, Israel believes, will strip away the legal protection and international focus on the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

Contrary to international law, Israel bars the return of millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants ethnically cleansed from their homes solely on the racist grounds that they are not Jews.

The Biden administration evidently shares Israel’s goal of eliminating UNRWA.

The White House in January suspended US funding to the agency – and refuses to restore it – on the pretext of baseless Israeli allegations against a dozen of UNRWA’s thousands of Palestinian staff in Gaza.

Favored by Israel

All this explains why even after its deadly attack on World Central Kitchen’s staff, Israel has gone out of its way to praise the group’s work as “critical.”

It starts to make sense why World Central Kitchen has been given preferential treatment by both the United States and Israel, even while Israel continues to systematically block other humanitarian aid to Gaza, especially from UNRWA.
That preferential treatment includes the Israeli army helping World Central Kitchen to build a jetty to unload ships off the coast of Gaza using rubble from the homes of Palestinians bombed by Israel.

The Israeli-backed jetty project “was a milestone in a venture that Western officials hope will play a part in easing the enclave’s food deprivation,” The New York Times reported last month, adding that “the operation has been described as a pilot project for the broader opening of a maritime corridor to supply the territory.”

“Every step was carried out with permission from the Israeli military,” the Times reported, citing Sam Bloch, World Central Kitchen’s director of emergency response.

No one other than World Central Kitchen has been allowed by Israel to bring aid in by sea, and in the past Israel has attacked and massacred civilian groups attempting to do so.

And such a “venture” or “pilot project” only makes sense in a context where UNRWA is being eliminated.

After all, if these “Western” – read American – officials really wanted aid to flow to starving Palestinians, the instant way of doing that is for Israel to stop starving them and allow UNRWA – with its already existing infrastructure – to do its work.

It is also notable that Israel has facilitated the entry of some World Central Kitchen trucks into Gaza from Egypt, even as Israel holds up thousands of others.

While helping World Central Kitchen’s highly publicized efforts, Israel has regularly targeted aid trucks and has murdered over 500 Palestinians as they assisted with distribution or waited for aid.

That has not, however, garnered a fraction of the international outcry as the attack on World Central Kitchen.

A recent article in The New Humanitarian discusses how COGAT, the bureaucratic arm of Israel’s military occupation, has facilitated the work of World Central Kitchen at the expense of other humanitarian agencies.

“While aid workers who spoke with The New Humanitarian agreed that any food delivered to Gaza – where the entire population is at risk of famine – is a good thing, they asked why COGAT had allowed one agency, World Central Kitchen, to deliver a relatively small amount of food, while largely denying the UN and other agencies,” the publication states.

The article also notes how Israel is deliberately sidelining the UN.

“There’s been a clear desire to create an alternative structure that Israel has more direct oversight and control over,” Jesse Marks, a senior officer with the charity Refugees International, told The New Humanitarian.

Celebrity chef supports Israeli genocide

Following Israel’s murder of his colleagues, World Central Kitchen founder, the celebrity chef José Andrés, said that “they were targeted systematically, car by car.”

Andrés also said that Israel’s assault on Gaza is “not a war against terrorism anymore” but rather a “war against humanity itself.”

World Central Kitchen has also responded coolly to Israel’s preliminary self-investigation of its attack on the group’s staff.

But even with this shift of tone, Andrés cannot obscure his early, hardline support for Israel’s extermination campaign in Gaza even as others were warning about the unfolding genocide.

On 16 October, when Israel had already killed 2,750 Palestinians and injured almost 10,000 in just over a week, Andrés reacted angrily to Spanish government minister Ione Belarra when she denounced the slaughter as a genocide.

A day earlier, 800 scholars and practitioners of international law, including prominent Holocaust scholars, published a statement to “sound the alarm about the possibility of the crime of genocide being perpetrated by Israeli forces against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

Despite this, Andrés adamantly justified the bloodbath in Gaza as Israel “defending its citizens” and demanded that Spain’s prime minister fire Belarra for her comments.

Chef gives war advice

Even though he is now more openly critical of Israel, Andrés continues to support its attack on Gaza.

In a 3 April New York Times op-ed, Andrés sticks to the line that the Palestinian resistance operation that primarily targeted and defeated the Israeli army’s Gaza division on 7 October amounted to “the worst terrorist attack in [Israel’s] history.”

At no point in the op-ed does Andrés call for a ceasefire, instead offering Israel praise and advice on how to wage its attack in what he would presumably consider to be a more acceptable manner.

“Israel is better than the way this war is being waged. It is better than blocking food and medicine to civilians,” he asserts, ignoring how the vast majority of the Israeli Jewish public supports depriving the population in Gaza of humanitarian aid.

“You cannot win this war by starving an entire population,” Andrés advises his Israeli friends, making clear that his goal is for Israel to “win” – whatever that might mean – against the Palestinian resistance struggling for their people’s liberation against a colonial power that has dispossessed, occupied, murdered and persecuted them for eight decades.

In other words, the chef’s line is not that of a true humanitarian, but rather echoes the Biden administration, which refuses to call for an immediate, permanent ceasefire – the one thing that would do more than anything else to save the lives of people in Gaza.

That is no surprise, given how close Andrés is personally to the Biden White House.

Close to the US government

Following the Israeli murder of the World Central Kitchen workers, President Joe Biden personally called Andrés to express his condolences and support.

By contrast there has been no report of Biden calling the head of UNRWA, even after Israel has killed more than 175 of that agency’s staff – the highest number of UN personnel to be killed during any conflict in history.

And in late February, more than a month after the International Court of Justice found that Israel was plausibly committing genocide in Gaza – something Tel Aviv can only do due to the weapons provided by the United States – Andrés showed up at the White House to promote a Biden administration political initiative.
That is only the tip of the iceberg of Andrés’ collaboration with the Biden administration and the US government.

As The Grayzone reports, Andrés even heaped praise on Secretary of State Antony Blinken as recently as February – in spite of Blinken being among the most hardline backers of Israel’s genocide.

But doesn’t every bit help?

World Central Kitchen is very good at promoting its efforts in Gaza – a public relations campaign calculated to elicit an emotional response, as well as donations to an organization that raised more than $500 million in 2022 alone.

Many reasonable and compassionate observers will say that if World Central Kitchen is actually getting food into the mouths and stomachs of Palestinians in Gaza, then it is doing good work, because in such a crisis every bit helps.

That would be true if World Central Kitchen were not being used as part of an effort to replace a far more comprehensive and effective mechanism for meeting basic needs: UNRWA.

No matter how many meals World Central Kitchen serves, it is a drop in the ocean.

As of 28 March, World Central Kitchen says that during 175 days of operations in Gaza it has served 42 million meals and now operates 68 “community kitchens.”

That may sound impressive, but there are 2.3 million people in Gaza. If each of them needs three meals a day, that means the overall population needs almost seven million meals per day or 49 million meals per week.

Currently, in northern Gaza, where the Israeli-imposed starvation is the most severe, people are surviving on an average of just 245 calories per day, around a tenth of their needs.

This needs a massive surge of aid to alleviate, something that cannot happen without a ceasefire and the unimpeded access for the UN and other humanitarian agencies ordered by the International Court of Justice just last week.

The objection then is not to World Central Kitchen operating in Gaza or serving food there, but to the organization being used – and allowing itself to be used – as a cover to dismantle UNRWA and impose a new Israeli-American regime on Gaza.

If that plan is allowed to succeed, then every meal served by World Central Kitchen – and promoted on its social media accounts – helps to conceal the many more Palestinians who will starve because effective aid on a massive scale is being deliberately kept out.

The destruction of UNRWA would mean not only more mass starvation and death – as if that is not bad enough – but permanent harm to Palestinian rights overall.

That’s why BADIL, a Palestinian organization that promotes refugee rights, is calling for the funding of the UN agency as a way to “resist colonial domination.”

By collaborating with Israel and the United States at the expense of bigger and more effective aid mechanisms, World Central Kitchen is serving their genocidal agenda.




to myself, Ali puts everyone straight, that the Zionist can't be trusted , nothing but dirty tricks, with the brave long suffering oppressed seen to not exist. Free Palestine as USAF Aaron Bushnell said.
Solidarity with the weak& the hungry. #genocidejoe must go .
Remain with a righteous anger , never let this be normalized


Thank you Ali, for your fearless and spot on analysis here. (following Tamara Nassar's excellent article on April 3)
The WFK is not a Deus ex machina. Upstaging and usurping UNWRA proved to be a disastrous venture. You spelled this out so clearly, starting with Andrés' reaction on Oct 16 to Spanish government minister Ione Belarra when she condemned the Israeli slaughter and called it a genocide. A true humanitarian would have agreed with her. The WFK can't call its mission 'apolitical'!
EI's podcast on this subject was amazing! Thank you all, you are a brilliant team!


Obviously, what Mr Abunimah writes is spot on but I was surprised to note that 3 things were not noted in the article:1) That WCK provided meals to the IDF murderers during the early stages of the genocide (although this does not bother me greatly as I am sure - knowing the great humanitarian that Jose Andres is he would have provided the SS guards at Auschwitz with the same).2) that the rubble used to build their Gaza jetty almost certainly contained the bones and skulls of some of the victims of the zionists' mass bombing and could, therefore, have provided further evidence of war crimes now conveniently destroyed. Finally 3) that the amount of attention paid to the 7 WCK dead - all of whom happen to be inconveniently white - is in stark contrast to the relevant lack of concern shown by the Washington-Berlin-London axis to the more than 33,000 non-white sub-men massacred by the blood brothers of that same murderous axis.
Don't we all love such real humanitarianism when it is on full display.


Jose Andres, of World Central Kitchen is the
Culinary Ambassador from the US
STATE DEPT. He works for the US govt
And it has been reported that he's friends w Anthony Blinken.
It appears he has been affiliated w the US State Dept since at least 2011.

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