Advertisement

MSF dismisses Israeli claim of 'regrettable incident' in strike against aid workers in Gaza

Site of a strike on WCK vehicle in central Gaza Strip

By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber

GENEVA (Reuters) - The Doctors Without Borders medical charity (MSF) said on Thursday it rejected Israel's position that an airstrike which killed seven aid workers was a "regrettable incident", saying many humanitarian personnel have been attacked previously.

Seven workers from World Central Kitchen, which provides food relief in crisis and conflict zones, were killed when their convoy was hit on Monday night shortly after they oversaw the unloading of 100 tons of food brought to the Palestinian enclave by sea.

"We do not accept the narrative of regrettable incidents," Christopher Lockyear, Secretary General of MSF International, said at a press conference in Geneva.

"We do not accept it because what has happened to World Central Kitchen and MSF's convoys and shelters is part of the same pattern of deliberate attacks on humanitarians, health workers, journalists, U.N. personnel, schools and homes."

He added: "We have been saying it for weeks now: this pattern of attacks is either intentional or indicative of reckless incompetence."

Israel has described the deadly incident as an operational accident and is invesigating it. It has consistently denied deliberately targeting civilians in its war with Hamas militants.

Lockyear said MSF remained present in Gaza in the wake of the killings but was assessing the risk to its teams on a daily basis.

He said the killings of the World Central Kitchen workers showed that measures to ease the conflict were futile "in a war fought with no rules".

"That these attacks on humanitarian workers are allowed to happen is a political choice," he said.

"Our movements and locations are shared, coordinated and identified already. This is about impunity, a total disregard for the laws of war. And now it must become about accountability."

Lockyear said MSF had urged Israel to investigate a deadly attack on an MSF convoy in November and probe other incidents involving the organisation, including an Israeli attack on an MSF shelter in Al-Mawasi in February.

"I have received no explanation for any of the incidents," Lockyear said.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Angus MacSwan)