World Central Kitchen Demands Independent Probe After Israel Kills Aid Workers

World Central Kitchen, the international aid group known for providing food to areas ravaged by natural and man-made disasters, has called for an independent investigation into Israel’s airstrikes on its aid workers in Gaza that killed seven.

In a statement released Thursday, WCK wrote that they have “asked the governments of Australia, Canada, the United States of America, Poland, and the United Kingdom to join us in demanding an independent, third-party investigation into these attacks, including whether they were carried out intentionally or otherwise violated international law.”

Among the seven killed in the airstrikes, which targeted three vehicles marked with WCK logos, were three WCK relief team members, including Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, a 25-year-old from Palestine; Damian Soból, a 35-year-old from Poland; and Jacob Flickinger, a 33-year-old from the U.S. and Canada. Three British members of the WCK security team and a relief lead — John Chapman, 57; James Henderson, 33; James Kirby, 47; and Australian citizen Zomi Frankcom, 43 — were also killed.

“This was a military attack that involved multiple strikes and targeted three WCK vehicles. All three vehicles were carrying civilians; they were marked as WCK vehicles; and their movements were in full compliance with Israeli authorities, who were aware of their itinerary, route, and humanitarian mission,” the group wrote. “An independent investigation is the only way to determine the truth of what happened, ensure transparency and accountability for those responsible, and prevent future attacks on humanitarian aid workers.”

The organization, which has delivered more than 43 million meals and established 68 aid kitchens in Gaza, announced earlier this week that it would be pausing operations in the region in the aftermath of the attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Tuesday that Israeli Defense Forces forces were responsible for the deaths, claiming that “our forces unintentionally hit innocent people in the Gaza Strip,” as “happens in war,” and promising an investigation into the incident. According to Reuters, Israel indicated Thursday that its military’s investigation into the airstrikes could take weeks to complete.

International humanitarian groups, the United Nations, and officials at the U.S. Agency for International Development have warned that Gaza is facing imminent famine conditions as Israel continues to heavily restrict humanitarian access to the besieged region. On Wednesday, WCK founder and world-renowned chef José Andrés published an op-ed in The New York Times that called the killings “the direct result of a policy that squeezed humanitarian aid to desperate levels.”

“You cannot save the hostages by bombing every building in Gaza. You cannot win this war by starving an entire population,” Andrés wrote.

In a separate interview with Reuters, Andrés said that the WCK workers “were targeted deliberately, nonstop, until everybody was dead in this convoy.” He continued, “This was not just a bad-luck situation where ‘oops,’ we dropped the bomb in the wrong place … Even if we were not in coordination with the [Israel Defense Forces], no democratic country and no military can be targeting civilians and humanitarians.”

President Joe Biden said in a statement Tuesday that he was “outraged and heartbroken” over the deaths of the aid workers. For many, the statement rings hollow, especially considering that, per The Washington Post, the administration approved the sale of thousands more bombs to Israel the very day the workers were killed.

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