Several aid workers killed in Israeli strike on Gaza

GAZA STRIP, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES  -  An Israeli strike killed several peo­ple delivering food aid to the be­sieged Gaza Strip on Monday, their organisation said, with the health ministry in the Hamas-run territo­ry reporting that four of them were foreigners. “Today, World Central Kitchen lost several of its sisters and brothers in an Israeli army strike in Gaza,” said the NGO’s founder, chef Jose Andres.

World Central Kitchen, a US-head­quartered organisation, called the incident a “tragedy” and reiterated that “humanitarian aid workers and civilians should never be a target”.

According to the health ministry in Gaza, the bodies of four foreign aid workers and their Palestinian driv­er were brought to a hospital in the town of Deir el-Balah after an Israeli strike targeted their vehicle.

Hamas said the aid workers in­cluded “British, Australian and Pol­ish nationalities, with the fourth na­tionality not known”.

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

At the Al-Aqsa Hospital, an AFP correspondent saw five bodies with three foreign passports lying nearby.

The Israeli military said it was “conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic inci­dent” adding that it had been “work­ing closely with WCK” in the effort to provide aid to Palestinians.

Israel has come under immense international pressure to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into the blockaded strip after six months of war and stark warnings from the United Nations about the dire lev­els of hunger stalking all 2.4 million Gazans. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was seeking to confirm reports that an Australian aid worker had died.

“These reports are very distress­ing,” its spokesperson said. “We have been clear on the need for civilian lives to be protected in this conflict.”

A UN-backed report warned on March 19 that half of Gazans are feel­ing “catastrophic” hunger and pro­jected imminent famine in the terri­tory’s north. Since Hamas’s October 7 attack triggered the war, Gaza has been under a near-complete blockade, with the United Nations accusing Isra­el of preventing deliveries of human­itarian aid. The world’s top court has ordered Israel to “ensure urgent hu­manitarian assistance” in Gaza with­out delay, saying “famine is setting in”.

Foreign powers have ramped up aid airdrops, although UN agen­cies and charities warn this falls far short of the dire need and say trucks are the most efficient way of deliv­ering aid. The bloodiest-ever Gaza war erupted with Hamas’s unprec­edented October 7 attack which re­sulted in about 1,160 deaths in Isra­el, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures. Is­rael’s retaliatory campaign, aimed at destroying Hamas, has killed at least 32,845 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

On Monday, Israeli army pulled out of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City after an intensive, two-week military op­eration against Hamas transformed the territory’s largest medical com­plex into charred ruins. “There are more terrorists in the hospital than patients or medical staff,” Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari said, adding that 900 people had been apprehended at the sprawling hospital complex, with over 500 of them “definitely” militants.

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