Aid to Gaza suspended after Israel murders World Central Kitchen workers

Palestinians inspect the heavily damaged vehicles after the Israeli attacks target officials working at the US-based organization World Central Kitchen in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, on 2 April.

Omar Ashtawy APA images / Polaris

The Israeli airforce struck a convoy of aid workers overnight on Tuesday in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, killing seven members of the US-based World Central Kitchen charity.

The “team was traveling in a deconflicted zone in two armored cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle,” WCK said.

Local media circulated footage depicting the aftermath of the strike on the vehicle. The footage reveals a hole from the missile impact piercing through a large banner affixed to the roof, prominently displaying the organization’s name and logo for identification.

The aid workers killed in the attack were from Australia, Poland, the United Kingdom and Palestine, and one was a dual citizen of the US and Canada.
Graphic images depicting the corpses of aid workers, clad in bulletproof vests bearing the logo of World Central Kitchen, circulated on social media.

“Some of them were [just] body parts, another had their face amputated, some lost upper or lower body parts – deformations that show they were targeted by a rocket that hit their cars,” Marwan al-Hams, director of al-Najjar Hospital, said.

“They are currently being kept at Najjar Hospital until their embassies or consular representatives are present,” al-Hams added.

WCK announced the immediate suspension of all its operations in the region. Ships that had already set sail from Cyprus as part of WCK’s operations were reportedly turning back.

Anera, a US charity providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians, also announced a pause in its operations in Gaza. It was the second largest humanitarian aid group in the Gaza Strip after the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA).

“The unprecedented scale of the current conflict and the disregard for international law necessitate this historic pause in our operations,” the group said.

The Gaza logistics and support coordinator for the group, Mousa Shawwa, was also killed in an Israeli strike on Deir al-Balah last month.

“Everyone does as he pleases”

“This happens in wartime,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the killings.

“We are thoroughly looking into it, are in contact with the governments [of the foreigners among the dead], and will do everything to ensure it does not happen again,” he added, according to The Jerusalem Post.

He said that the killings were “unintended.”

Israel’s military chief of staff Herzl Halevi said that “the strike was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers.”

He added: “It was a mistake that followed a misidentification – at night during a war in very complex conditions. It shouldn’t have happened.”

Unnamed Israeli army sources told Haaretz that the killing “stemmed from poor discipline among field commanders, not a lack of coordination between the army and aid organizations.”

An Israeli intelligence source told the newspaper that the army’s southern command “know exactly what the cause of the attack was – in Gaza, everyone does as he pleases.”

John Kirby, US State Department spokesperson, said “there’s no evidence” that the Israeli army killing of the WCK staff was deliberate.

Kirby asserted that the US State Department has “not found any incidents where the Israelis have violated international humanitarian law.”

“Targeted” attack?

But the CEO of World Central Kitchen described it as a “targeted attack” by the Israeli army.

The charity works and coordinates very closely with the Israeli army, as the latter itself has confirmed.

“WCK are thought to have the closest cooperation with the Israeli army and seemed to enjoy preferential treatment for being from its perspective ‘neutral’ (ie no advocacy work),” Tania Hary, the executive director of Israeli rights group Gisha, said.

The nature of the attack raises suspicions that it may have been deliberate.

“An Israeli drone fired three missiles one after the other,” unnamed “defense sources” privy to the details of the attack told the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz.

The source stated that the Israeli army conducted the attack based on “suspicion that a terrorist was traveling with the convoy,” the newspaper reported.

The Israeli army’s operation room, tasked with coordinating and securing the aid convoy’s route, supposedly “identified an armed man on the truck and suspected that he was a terrorist,” Haaretz reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the details of the attack.

“Until the actions that preceded the strike, carried out by [an Elbit] Hermes 450 drone, were completed, the truck reached the warehouse with the World Central Kitchen’s three cars,” including the seven aid workers, Haaretz reported.

Minutes later, three trucks belonging to the air group left the warehouse, “without the truck, on which the ostensibly armed man was located,” Haaretz reported.

The newspaper added that the “armed man did not leave the warehouse,” citing unnamed “defense sources.”

Despite neither the man nor the truck he was in having left the warehouse or accompanied the convoy after its departure – which, either way, does not justify the killing of humanitarian aid workers – it remains unclear why the Israeli air force proceeded with the attack and in the manner it did.

The aid vehicles carrying the seven workers continued to move along the route approved by the Israeli army, as reported by Haaretz, and continued to coordinate with it.

“When the convoy was driving along the approved route, the war room of the unit responsible for security of the route ordered the drone operators to attack one of the cars with a missile,” Haaretz reported.

Some of the aid workers managed to get out of the vehicle after the missile hit it and moved to one of the other two cars.

“They continued to drive and even notified the people responsible that they were attacked, but, seconds later, another missile hit their car,” Haaretz reported.

“The third car in the convoy approached, and the passengers began to transfer to it the wounded who had survived the second strike – in order to get them out of danger. But then a third missile struck them.”

Researchers identified the locations from where the three missiles were fired:

An unnamed Israeli army source cited by Haaretz attempts to distance top decision-makers from the attack, implying that the decision to launch it was made in the field.

“It’s frustrating,” the source told Haaretz.

“We’re trying our hardest to accurately hit terrorists, and utilizing every thread of intelligence, and in the end the units in the field decide to launch attacks without any preparation, in cases that have nothing to do with protecting our forces.”

If anything, this only underscores the brazenness of Israel’s trigger-happy soldiers and air force, assured of a lack of consequences awaiting them over their actions.

This was reportedly not the first time that staff from the World Central Kitchen had been on the receiving end of Israeli fire.

Just days ago, an Israeli sniper fired at a vehicle en route to a food warehouse owned by the organization in the southern area of Khan Younis.

The gunfire struck the vehicle’s windshield but the aid volunteer was not injured.

The World Central Kitchen immediately filed a complaint with the Israeli army, Haaretz reported, urging them to cease firing at its operatives during food delivery missions.


“I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family,” said José Andrés, the celebrity chef who heads the organization.

“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.”

Andrés’s statements were markedly different from his previous open support for Israel’s attacks on Gaza, which came several days after Israel had launched its assault on the Strip and openly committed to using food as a weapon to punish the entire population of Gaza.

“You as a minister have to first recognize that the Hamas attack against civilians is a terrorist act,” Andrés wrote on 16 October, in response to Spanish minister Ione Belarra.

Belarra was denouncing Israel’s genocide in Gaza and slamming Israel for “carrying out war crimes in the Gaza Strip, massive bombings, water and electricity cuts,” as well as not “letting in humanitarian aid.”

That did not phase Andrés then, who demanded that Belarra recognize that Israel is “defending its citizens, then you can ask for restraint and respect for the lives of civilians in Gaza.”

The celebrity chef continued his attack on Belarra.

“Are you pro-Russia and pro-Hamas? You do not represent me or Spain. She does not deserve to be a minister.”

Built from the rubble

Israel’s genocide in the Gaza Strip over the last six months has been marred by attempts to whitewash the manmade catastrophe with humanitarian gestures.

The latest face of this effort has been the World Central Kitchen, which describes itself as “first to the frontlines, providing meals in response to humanitarian, climate and community crises.”

The organization sent its first aid shipment to Gaza in mid-March.

A video with a hopeful soundtrack, posted by the group, shows smiling workers constructing a temporary pier on the shores of Gaza against the backdrop of a coastal enclave that the Israeli army has turned into vast killing fields and heaps of rubble.

The footage shows workers hastily building a temporary pier to facilitate the arrival of the aid ship carrying 200 tons of food, medicine, supplies and other essentials.

“This was the first boat to reach Gaza in almost two decades,” WCK said.

This is untrue.

Shortly after Israel imposed its siege on Gaza by land, air, and sea in 2007, international activists managed to break the maritime blockade by delivering aid via boat, defying the Israeli occupation.

Despite a few successful attempts, the Israeli navy repeatedly attacked the boats; and in the case of the Mavi Marmara in 2010, killed and kidnapped activists on it.

The only reason the World Central Kitchen has been able to deliver aid into Gaza by boat is because the genocidaires of Gaza have given them the green light and safe passage to do so.

“Every step was carried out with permission from the Israeli military,” The New York Times reported, speaking to the charity’s director of emergency response.

Israel has blocked the import and export of supplies, goods and persons in and out of the Gaza Strip for 17 years – an act of collective punishment for the 2.3 million Palestinians in the tiny territory.

Eliminating and replacing UNRWA

Israel’s aim has been to eliminate and replace UNRWA in its role as the established provider and coordinator of aid distribution within the Gaza Strip.

In January, Israel baselessly accused a handful of UNRWA employees of participating in the 7 October military operation. These allegations were based on confessions that were likely obtained under torture of Palestinian detainees.

This prompted donor countries, including the US, the agency’s largest funder, to suspend $440 million in aid.

In recent weeks, several countries – including Australia, Sweden and Canada – announced that they have resumed financial contributions to UNRWA.

No self-determination

World Central Kitchen was part of the plan for a “maritime corridor” to the coastal enclave announced by US President Joe Biden last month.

Countries that have consistently supported Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza or have refused to call for a ceasefire have been on board for this “maritime corridor” plan.

Israel, the engineer of the Gaza famine, was the first to endorse the idea of establishing a maritime corridor to address a crisis it initiated and is now worsening.

On Tuesday, Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari even called the work of World Central Kitchen “critical.”

But there remains no technical reason why aid trucks should not be able to enter Gaza by land. It is the most efficient, cost-effective and safe method of delivering aid to Gaza, and aid trucks remain stuck at the Rafah crossing with Egypt, unable to enter Gaza because Israel won’t allow them in.

Washington refuses to use any of its enormous leverage to compel Tel Aviv to do so, or to end the siege on Gaza altogether.

The construction of a temporary pier and the dropping of aid packages from the sky are political gestures aimed at maneuvering and establishing political realities on the ground.

To this end, humanitarian aid airdrops, facilitated by the Jordanian air force, have evolved into publicity stunts for governments that have aided, abetted and defended Israel’s slaughter and campaign of destruction in Gaza.

These governments seek to whitewash their active roles in the genocide, maintaining support – and impeding efforts to stop – Israel’s killing machine.

The goal is to reshape the narrative of what is undeniably a war against civilians by shifting the focus from its political roots to “solving” a vague humanitarian crisis that Israel started and is worsening through its war on UNRWA.

This depoliticization serves to obscure the true nature of the genocide and the impending famine, reducing it to a series of tragic and unexplained instances of starvation and death within a “war-torn” landscape.

All the while, Western countries are helping Israel systematically destroy UNRWA, which is the entity most capable of effectively organizing humanitarian aid on a mass scale in Gaza.

Not only does this absolve Israel of its obligation to halt the slaughter and deliberate starvation of Palestinians, but it also renders Palestinians dependent on international aid and emergency relief – which is obstructed by the same army that supposedly coordinates with, and now kills, those responsible for its delivery.

Creating an environment in which Palestinians depend on aid prevents them from exercising the self-determination necessary to govern themselves.

Stripping away that self-determination has been a central, discernible tenet of Israel’s genocide in Gaza.




Normaly one would not bother to read all the separate declarations that went with the order of the ICJ of March 28. But I recommend to do that! They, the seven judges, are furious and say the measures are not enough. Even Nolte (the German) seems to be inclined in this direction, although he has some minor technical reservations about the procedures for issuing the order.
And now, since the new order was explicitly about the unhindered access of aid, and Israels pretexts around UNRWA are not implied here ... this targeted assassination against WKC may be the last straw that turns all the rest of the judges towards a guilty verrdict.
What's more, during the oral proceedings (in January) Israel had presented as "evidence" the heap of lies and atrocity stories that all since have been debunked. - But judges don't like beeing fooled in publc for all the world to see ... Whatever their inclinations otherwise might be, they foremost care to be respected. That's essentially a matter of their professional self-esteem.


I wonder if the IOF deliberately attacked the World Central Kitchen workers so that they would suspend their feeding operations . . .


His heroine countrywoman, butchered, the Australian Prime Minister huffs and puffs and then bends his craven knee. He will like a good American...oops Australian, will accept an investigation of this by the woman's murderers. Australia stood for something at Tobruk and Kakoda, it has crawled ever since.


The intention of the israeli government is to kill the palestinian people.

A green light for any aid action, safe zones a.s.o. by the israeli government has no meaning.
The UN must organize an emergency operation that forces the Israeli government to stop the killings.

Without help from outside, all the people there continue to die of hunger.
disease or as victims of the coming massacres.

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Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.