Wed. Apr 17th, 2024
alert-–-us-national-among-world-central-kitchen-staff-killed-in-‘israeli-airstrike’-in-gaza-as-charity’s-founder-celeb-chef-jose-andres-says-he-is-‘heartbroken-and-grieving-for-these-angels’-who-he-worked-with-in-ukraine-and-indonesiaAlert – US national among World Central Kitchen staff killed in ‘Israeli airstrike’ in Gaza as charity’s founder celeb chef Jose Andres says he is ‘heartbroken and grieving for these angels’ who he worked with in Ukraine and Indonesia

Seven aid workers including a US-Canadian national have been killed in an apparent Israeli air strike in Gaza, the World Central Kitchen charity has confirmed.

The team from the charity and their Palestinian driver were killed in central Gaza’s Deir al-Balah when their vehicle was struck on Monday, local media reported, after the group helped deliver food and other supplies to the region.

World Central Kitchen (WCK) said in a statement that a dual citizen of the US and Canada, three aid workers UK, an n, a Polish national and a Palestinian were killed while travelling in a deconflicted zone. 

The workers had just crossed in from the north after helping deliver aid that had arrived hours earlier on a ship from Cyprus, sources have claimed.

Harrowing footage shared online appeared to show the bodies of the dead at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital. Several of them wore protective gear with the charity’s logo. So far, only one person, the n, has been identified. 

The IDF said it has launched a probe into the incident at the ‘highest levels’ and reiterated that not only has been it ‘working closely’ with the charity, but also ‘makes extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid’. 

Canada and the US have still not released a statement on the death of one of their shared citizens. has contacted the US State Department and Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment. 

Seven aid workers including a British man have been killed in an apparent Israeli air strike in Gaza , the World Central Kitchen charity has confirmed. Pictured: A destroyed car displaying the charity's logo is seen from above on Tuesday

Seven aid workers including a British man have been killed in an apparent Israeli air strike in Gaza , the World Central Kitchen charity has confirmed. Pictured: A destroyed car displaying the charity’s logo is seen from above on Tuesday

The team from the charity and their Palestinian driver were killed in central Gaza's Deir al-Balah when their vehicle (pictured) was struck on Monday, local media reported, after the group helped deliver food and other supplies to the region

The team from the charity and their Palestinian driver were killed in central Gaza’s Deir al-Balah when their vehicle (pictured) was struck on Monday, local media reported, after the group helped deliver food and other supplies to the region

Lalzawmi

Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom (pictured), 44, from Melbourne , was killed along with three other international aid workers and a Palestinian driver, in Central Gaza, while working with the World Central Kitchen charity on Monday

WCK CEO Erin Gore shared a message of sympathy and grief this morning

WCK CEO Erin Gore shared a message of sympathy and grief this morning

Britain’s Foreign Office, meanwhile, said it was ‘aware’ of a report that a British aid worker had been killed in Gaza. A spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of reports of the death of a British national in Gaza and are urgently seeking further information.’  

Poland’s Foreign Ministry posted ‘sincerest words of sympathy’ to the family of a volunteer who had offered assistance to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, without saying how he was killed. The Foreign Ministry said it is requesting an explanation from Israel.

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

‘I am heartbroken and appalled that we—World Central Kitchen and the world—lost beautiful lives today because of a targeted attack by the IDF. 

‘The love they had for feeding people, the determination they embodied to show that humanity rises above all, and the impact they made in countless lives will forever be remembered and cherished.’

The n victim was named this morning as Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom, 44, from Melbourne. 

n Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed that Zomi Frankcom, 44, of Melbourne, was among those killed and said his government has requested an explanation from Israel.

‘This is someone who was volunteering overseas to provide aid through this charity for people who are suffering tremendous deprivation in Gaza. And this is just completely unacceptable,’ Albanese told reporters.

‘We want full accountability for this because this is a tragedy that should never have occurred.’

Since the October start of the war, World Central Kitchen has been involved in relief efforts, including supplying meals to hunger-stricken Gaza.

It is one of two NGOs spearheading efforts to deliver aid to Gaza by boat from Cyprus and was also involved in the construction of a temporary jetty.

WCK has described the loss of life as a ‘tragedy’ and, in a statement posted online, said ‘humanitarian aid workers and civilians should NEVER be a target. EVER’.

Its statement said the team was travelling in two armoured cars ‘branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle.’

It added: ‘Despite coordinating movements with the IDF, the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route.’

Gaza medical officials said earlier an apparent Israeli airstrike killed four international aid workers with the US-based international aid charity and their Palestinian driver.

The car was hit by an Israeli strike just after crossing from northern Gaza, Mahmoud Thabet, a paramedic from the Palestinian Red Crescent who was on the team that brought the bodies to the hospital, has claimed.

Video posted to social media also shows staff displaying the passports of three of the dead – British, n and Polish.

Their bodies could be seen in the background wrapped in body bags and wearing armour marked with the World Central Kitchen logo.

The source of strike could not be independently confirmed, but IDF will be ‘conducting a thorough review’ of the strike, Israel National News reported.

People stand near a destroyed car of the NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) along Al Rashid road, between Deir Al Balah and Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 2

People stand near a destroyed car of the NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) along Al Rashid road, between Deir Al Balah and Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 2

A view inside a destroyed vehicle from the World Central Kitchen in Gaza on April 2

A view inside a destroyed vehicle from the World Central Kitchen in Gaza on April 2

Palestinians are seen gathering around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on April 1, 2024. Many buildings including the hospital have been heavily damaged under airstrikes

Palestinians are seen gathering around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on April 1, 2024. Many buildings including the hospital have been heavily damaged under airstrikes

Palestinians gather around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on April 1, 2024

Palestinians gather around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on April 1, 2024

Palestinians gather around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital after as Israeli forces withdrew from Al-Shifa hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on April 1, 2024

Palestinians gather around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital after as Israeli forces withdrew from Al-Shifa hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on April 1, 2024

The Israeli army, in a statement, said: ‘Following the reports regarding the World Central Kitchen personnel in Gaza today, the IDF is conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this 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.’

In Britain, a Cabinet minister said the Government is ‘very, very concerned’ by reports that a British aid worker has been killed in Gaza.

Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, told the BBC: ‘We haven’t had it confirmed yet, but we are very, very concerned by the situation.

‘We do know that we’ve urged Israel to do more to protect civilians, but also to allow aid to get into Gaza.

‘But we haven’t yet had this confirmed and I think the IDF are reviewing this, probably as we speak.’

She added it was ‘worrying’ that the charity World Central Kitchen had suspended its work in Gaza.

She said: ‘One of the key things is trying to ensure we get more aid into Gaza, so if one of the charities working on the ground has suspended, then that’s obviously deeply concerning.’

Ms Keegan added: ‘Our thoughts would go to everybody affected.’

James Elder, spokesman for the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (Unicef), said the aid worker deaths underlined how dangerous the situation in Gaza has become.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘It is utterly horrifying. These people had been unloading something like a hundred tonnes of humanitarian food aid at this most critical junction when they were saving lives day in, day out.

Describing it as an ‘immense tragedy’, Mr Elder said the incident ‘underscores the horrendous conditions everyone continues to endure in Gaza, but it is just such a senseless loss of life’.

He added: ‘This has been one of the most dangerous places in living memory to operate, Gaza is breaking too many bleak records – numbers of children killed, number of people facing catastrophic hunger, record displacement, worst devastation to homes in living memory and largest number of United Nations colleagues killed since it was created.’

Passports of the officials working at the US-based international volunteer aid organization World Central Kitchen who were killed in an apparent Israeli airstrike on April 1, 2024 are seen after the attack

Passports of the officials working at the US-based international volunteer aid organization World Central Kitchen who were killed in an apparent Israeli airstrike on April 1, 2024 are seen after the attack

Ms Frankcom (pictured) had been working for the World Central Kitchen charity

Ms Frankcom (pictured) had been working for the World Central Kitchen charity 

Israeli troops, in a photo released by the Israeli army on April 1, 2024, are seen operating in the Gaza Strip amid the continuing battle with Hamas

Israeli troops, in a photo released by the Israeli army on April 1, 2024, are seen operating in the Gaza Strip amid the continuing battle with Hamas

An Israeli soldier, in a photo released by Israel's army on April 1, 2024, holds his gun as he and his troops operate in the Gaza Strip

An Israeli soldier, in a photo released by Israel’s army on April 1, 2024, holds his gun as he and his troops operate in the Gaza Strip

The aid ships that arrived Monday carried some 400 tons of food and supplies in a shipment organized by the United Arab Emirates and the World Central Kitchen, the charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés.

Last month a ship delivered 200 tons of aid in a pilot run. The Israeli military was involved in coordinating both deliveries.

The US has touted the sea route as a new way to deliver desperately needed aid to northern Gaza, where several hundred Palestinians face imminent famine, largely cut off from the rest of the territory by Israeli forces .

Israel has barred UNRWA, the main UN agency in Gaza, from making deliveries to the north , and other aid groups say sending truck convoys north has been too dangerous because of the military’s failure to ensure safe passage.

The airstrike comes after the Israeli military withdrew from Gaza’s largest hospital early Monday after a two-week raid that engulfed the facility and surrounding districts in fighting. 

Footage showed widespread devastation, with the facility’s main buildings reduced to burned-out husks.

The military has described the raid on Shifa Hospital as a major battlefield victory in the nearly six-month war, and officials said Israeli troops killed 200 militants in the operation, though the claim that they were all militants could not be confirmed.

The raid came at a time of mounting frustration in Israel, with tens of thousands protesting Sunday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and demanding that he do more to bring home dozens of hostages held in Gaza. It was the largest anti-government demonstration since the start of the war.

Elsewhere, Syrian officials and state media said an Israeli airstrike destroyed the Iran’s consulate in Syria, killing two Iranian generals and five officers.

The strike appears to signify an escalation of Israel’s targeting of Iranian military officials and their allies in Syria. The targeting has intensified since Hamas militants – who are supported by Iran – attacked Israel on October 7.

While Iran’s consular building was levelled in the attack, according to Syria’s SANA state news agency, its main embassy building remained intact.

Israel, which rarely acknowledges such strikes, said it had no comment. Iran’s ambassador, Hossein Akbari, vowed revenge for the attack ‘at the same magnitude and harshness.’

A ship loaded with humanitarian aid departing from the Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus is seen off the coast of Gaza city on April 1, 2024

A ship loaded with humanitarian aid departing from the Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus is seen off the coast of Gaza city on April 1, 2024

Humanitarian aid is pictured being air dropped over Gaza from an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft in a photo issued by Britain's Ministry of Defence on April 1, 2024

Humanitarian aid is pictured being air dropped over Gaza from an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft in a photo issued by Britain’s Ministry of Defence on April 1, 2024

UK Forces airdrop more food supplies to civilians in Gaza on April 1, 2024 as part of the action to address the plight of the Palestinian people

UK Forces airdrop more food supplies to civilians in Gaza on April 1, 2024 as part of the action to address the plight of the Palestinian people

In other developments, Netanyahu said he would shut down satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera immediately. 

The Prime Minister vowed to close the ‘terror channel’ after parliament passed a law Monday clearing the way for the country to halt the Qatari-owned channel from broadcasting from Israel.

Netanyahu accused Al Jazeera of harming Israeli security, participating in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and inciting violence against Israel.

Al Jazeera condemned his remarks, calling them ‘a dangerous and ridiculous lie’ and saying they were Netanyahu’s justification ‘for the ongoing assault’ on the media network and press freedom. In a statement, the network vowed to persist in its reporting with ‘boldness and professionalism.’

The hospital raid gutted a facility that had once been the heart of Gaza’s health care system but which doctors and staff had struggled to get even partially operating again after a previous Israeli assault in November.

Israel said it launched the latest raid on Shifa because senior Hamas operatives had regrouped there and were planning attacks. Israeli authorities identified six officials from Hamas’ military wing they said were killed inside the hospital during the raid. Israel also said it seized weapons and valuable intelligence.

In all, the military said it killed 200 militants inside and outside Shifa, though it provided no evidence all were militants.

The raid triggered days of heavy fighting for blocks around Shifa, with witnesses reporting airstrikes, the shelling of homes and troops going house to house to force residents to leave.

After the troops withdrew, hundreds of Palestinians returned to search for lost loved ones or examine the damage.

A view of the area as civil defense teams and local residents conduct search and rescue operations following an attack by the Israeli army on the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on March 31, 2024

A view of the area as civil defense teams and local residents conduct search and rescue operations following an attack by the Israeli army on the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on March 31, 2024

Palestinians inspect a destroyed shelter tent following an Israeli air strike near Al Aqsa hospital, in Deir Al Balah town in southern Gaza on March 31, 2024

Palestinians inspect a destroyed shelter tent following an Israeli air strike near Al Aqsa hospital, in Deir Al Balah town in southern Gaza on March 31, 2024

A member of the Abul Aoun family checks the rubble in his home destroyed during Israeli bombardment on the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Deir Balah in the central Gaza Strip on March 31, 2024

A member of the Abul Aoun family checks the rubble in his home destroyed during Israeli bombardment on the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Deir Balah in the central Gaza Strip on March 31, 2024

Among the dead were Ahmed Maqadma and his mother – both doctors at Shifa – and his cousin, said Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta, a Palestinian-British doctor who volunteered at Shifa and other hospitals during the first months of the war before returning to Britain.

The fate of the three had been unknown since they talked by phone with family as they tried to leave Shifa nearly a week ago and the line suddenly went dead. On Monday, relatives found their bodies with gunshot wounds about a block from the hospital, said Abu Sitta, who is in touch with the family.

Mohammed Mahdi, who was among those who returned to the area, described a scene of ‘total destruction.’ He said several buildings had been burned down and that he counted six bodies in the area, including two in the hospital courtyard, though it was not clear when they died.

Video footage circulating online showed the main buildings of Shifa charred and heavily damaged. Several witnesses said army bulldozers had plowed up a mass grave that had been dug in November in Shifa’s courtyard, leaving many bodies exposed.

At least 21 patients died during the raid, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus posted late Sunday on X, formerly Twitter.

He said over 100 patients were still inside the compound during the operation, including four children, 28 critical patients and many who suffered from infected wounds and dehydration.

The military denied that its forces harmed any civilians inside the compound. Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes and has raided many hospitals across the territory.

Critics accuse the army of recklessly endangering civilians and of decimating a health sector already overwhelmed with wounded.

A view of damaged building belonging to the Musa family at Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on March 29, 2024

A view of damaged building belonging to the Musa family at Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on March 29, 2024

A crying woman is embraced by a loved one as they stand near the damaged building belonging to the Musa family at Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah on March 29, 2024

A crying woman is embraced by a loved one as they stand near the damaged building belonging to the Musa family at Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah on March 29, 2024

A view of damaged building at Maghazi refugee camp after Israeli airstrikes in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on March 29, 2024

A view of damaged building at Maghazi refugee camp after Israeli airstrikes in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on March 29, 2024

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the top military spokesman, said Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group established their main northern headquarters inside the hospital. 

He described days of close-quarters fighting and blamed Hamas for the destruction, saying some fighters barricaded themselves inside hospital wards while others launched mortar rounds at the compound.

Hagari said the troops arrested some 900 suspected militants during the raid, including more than 500 Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters, and seized over $3 million in different currencies, as well as weapons.

He said the army evacuated more than 200 of the estimated 300 to 350 patients and delivered food, water and medical supplies to the rest. Two Israeli soldiers were killed in the raid, the military said.

The war began on Oct. 7, when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 people hostage.

Israel responded with an air, land and sea offensive that has killed at least 32,845 Palestinians, around two-thirds of them women and children, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its count. 

The Israeli military blames the civilian toll on Palestinian militants because they fight in dense residential areas.

The war has displaced most of the territory’s population and driven a third of its residents to the brink of famine. Northern Gaza, where Shifa is located, has suffered vast destruction and has been largely isolated since October, leading to widespread hunger.

UN vehicles drive past a destroyed car on a road in Gaza City on April 1, 2024

UN vehicles drive past a destroyed car on a road in Gaza City on April 1, 2024

UK Armed Forces are pictured loading Container Delivery Systems (CDS) with humanitarian aid before being air dropped over Gaza from an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft

UK Armed Forces are pictured loading Container Delivery Systems (CDS) with humanitarian aid before being air dropped over Gaza from an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft

Army personnel from 47 Air Despatch Squadron loaded aid from Jordan and the UK onto an RAF A400M Atlas from RAF Brize Norton.7000 Kgs of aid was dropped into Northern Gaza

Army personnel from 47 Air Despatch Squadron loaded aid from Jordan and the UK onto an RAF A400M Atlas from RAF Brize Norton.7000 Kgs of aid was dropped into Northern Gaza

Meanwhile, a second shipment of food aid arrived by sea in the latest test of a new maritime route from the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus. One of the three boats could be seen off the coast, and Cyprus’ foreign minister said they had received permission to unload. The precise mechanism of delivery was not yet clear.

Netanyahu has vowed to keep up the offensive until Hamas is destroyed and all hostages are freed. He says Israel will soon expand ground operations to the southern city of Rafah, where some 1.4 million people – more than half of Gaza’s population – have sought refuge.

But he faces mounting pressure from Israelis who blame him for the security failures of Oct. 7 and from some families of the hostages who blame him for the failure to reach a deal despite several weeks of talks mediated by the United States, Qatar and Egypt. Allied countries, including main backer the United States, have warned him against an invasion of Rafah.

Hamas and other militants are still believed to be holding some 100 hostages and the remains of 30 others, after freeing most of the rest during a cease-fire last November in exchange for the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.