World condemns Israeli airstrike killing 7 World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza - as it happened -

Ahram Online , Wednesday 3 Apr 2024

Ahram Online is providing coverage of the Israeli war on Gaza on its 179th day.

People inspect the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, April 2, 2024. AP


21:15 Israeli President Isaac Herzog apologised Tuesday for the air strike that killed seven aid workers in Gaza.

Herzog said he spoke to Jose Andres, the US-based celebrity chef who heads the aid group World Central Kitchen, to express his "deep sorrow and sincere apologies over the tragic loss of life."

21:00 The United States is "outraged" over the strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza, White House Spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday.

"We were outraged to learn of an IDF strike that killed a number of civilian humanitarian workers yesterday from the World Central Kitchen," Kirby said.

20:00 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted Tuesday that Israel's military had "unintentionally" killed seven aid workers with a US charity in an air strike in Gaza.

Netanyahu said it was a "tragic case" that would be investigated "right to the end."

US-based WCK has been working to unload food brought to Gaza by sea from Cyprus.

The group's CEO Erin Gore said: "I am heartbroken and appalled that we, World Central Kitchen and the world, lost beautiful lives today because of a targeted attack by the (Israeli army)."

The aid group said the team was travelling in a "de-conflicted" area in a convoy of "two armoured cars branded with the WCK logo" and another vehicle at the time of the strike.

The Israeli military said it was "conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident", adding it had been "working closely with WCK."

18:50 The World Bank says the Israel war has caused damage of around $18.5 billion to Gaza's critical infrastructure, according to a new report published Tuesday.

This is equivalent to 97 percent of the combined economic output of the West Bank and Gaza in 2022, the World Bank said in its interim damage assessment.

18:00 The United States on Tuesday urged an impartial investigation into an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip that killed seven staff of US-based charity World Central Kitchen, saying Israel should do more to protect civilians.

The US urges "a swift, thorough and impartial investigation to understand exactly what happened", US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Paris alongside French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné.

"What we have impressed upon the Israelis is to do more to protect innocent civilian lives, be they innocent Palestinian children or aid workers."

"We should not have a situation where people who are simply trying to help their fellow human beings are themselves at great risk," said Blinken, adding humanitarian workers "have to be protected".

17:20 Britain on Tuesday summoned the Israeli ambassador over the deaths of aid workers in Gaza, the foreign ministry said. 

Foreign Minister David Cameron said on X that "Israel must urgently explain how this happened and make major changes to ensure safety of aid workers on the ground."

17:00 France's Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné on Tuesday "strongly condemned" the Israeli air strike which killed seven people working for celebrity chef Jose Andres's World Central Kitchen charity in Gaza.

"The protection of humanitarian personnel is a moral and legal imperative that everyone must adhere to," Séjourné said at a news conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

"Nothing can justify such a tragedy," added Séjourné.

Germany also urged Israel to carry out a full probe into a strike in the Gaza Strip that killed seven staff from US-based charity World Central Kitchen.

"The Israeli government must investigate this terrible incident quickly and thoroughly," Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

16:00 On the second day of a four-day protest, some thousand Israelis continued their sit-in outside Israel's parliament the Knesset and other government buildings in Jerusalem, demanding that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resign from office over his failure to return Israelis still held in Gaza.

Photos circulated on newswires and social media showed dozens setting camp on the sidewalk just below the government buildings, some of them hanging photos of Israeli captives on the outside of their tents, others waving Israeli flags.

Just a day before, thousands of angry Israelis took to the streets for what was the third consecutive night of protests calling for Netanyahu to quit over his failure to bring back the captives, one of Israel's self-declared goals of its war on Gaza.

Mass protests uniting families of the captives and an anti-government street movement that failed to unseat Netanyahu last year brought Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to a standstill on Saturday and Sunday.

As thousands again gathered in Tel Aviv and outside Israel's parliament in Jerusalem on Monday, several protesters said that Netanyahu has to be forced out "to save Israel."


A picture shows tents at a camp set up by Israeli anti-government protesters during a four-day sit-in near the parliament in Jerusalem on April 2, 2024. AFP


15:30 Egypt strongly condemned the Israeli airstrike that targeted international relief workers affiliated with the World Central Kitchen Foundation in the Gaza Strip, killing 7 people of different nationalities.

"Egypt affirmed its rejection and categorical denunciation of Israel’s continued targeting of organizations working in the humanitarian field, which play a vital and major role in confronting the catastrophic humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip, without accountability or responsibility for these blatant violations of international law and international humanitarian law," read a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

15:00 The United States and Britain led international criticism Tuesday of a deadly strike in the Gaza Strip that killed seven charity staff as they unloaded desperately needed aid brought by sea to the war-torn territory.

World Central Kitchen -- one of two NGOs spearheading efforts to deliver aid by boat -- said a "targeted Israeli strike" on Monday killed Australian, British, Palestinian, Polish and US-Canadian staff.

Washington, Israel's main ally, said it was "heartbroken and deeply troubled by the strike".

"Humanitarian aid workers must be protected as they deliver aid that is desperately needed," US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the strike was "unintentional."

The Israeli army has vowed to hold an investigation and promised to "share our findings transparently."

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron -- who has been increasingly critical of Israel's war in Gaza -- said the country had "called on Israel to immediately investigate and provide a full, transparent explanation of what happened."

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was "shocked and saddened" after learning that a Briton was among those killed.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese slammed the "completely unacceptable" attack, and called it a "tragedy that should never have occurred."

He offered "sincere condolences" to the family of Australian volunteer Lalzawmi "Zomi" Frankcom, who was killed in the strike.

"She just wanted to help out through this charity. That says everything about the character of this young woman," Albanese said.


Palestinians carry the body of a World Central Kitchen worker at Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, April 2, 2024. AP


14:00 In an interview with SkyNews, MD Tanya Haj-Hassan responded to Israeli claims about "targetting Hamas fighters" to justify raids on the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the largest healthcare facility in the strip that has been nearly reduced to rubble after a two-week raid on the complex.

Haj-Hassan, a pediatric intensive care physician with Doctors Without Borders who just spent two weeks volunteering at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Gaza, said Israeli soldiers were executing people point blank at Al-Shifa Hospital.

"I am just shocked that we're still having this conversation, they executed tens of people point-blank, including one of our colleagues," she said.

"Previous students of mine detained, young doctors detained, we don't know if they're dead or alive. They have been gone for over a hundred days."

"So, to say that this is a strategic targeting of Hamas is an insult to our intellect and our humanity, this is a destruction of people who heal, this is a direct targeting of healthcare workers," she added.

Citing healthcare workers in Gaza, she said: "They are saying when they leave the hospital civilians give them civilian clothing because wearing scrubs is sticking a target sticker on their back, that is how systematic the healthcare has been targeted."



13:00 The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that newborn mortality is rising sharply in the Gaza Strip, with more babies being born underweight due to Israel's siege on Gaza.

"From different doctors, particularly in the maternity hospitals, they're reporting that they're seeing a big rise in children born with low birth weight, and just not surviving the neonatal period because they're born too small," WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said at a briefing in Geneva.

She said that at Kamal Adwan, the only paediatric hospital in northern Gaza, "at least 15 malnourished children are coming in per day, and the needs are just getting ever more severe".

The WHO is unable to establish precise statistics on child mortality because of the devastation in the Palestinian territory after six months of Israel's Gaza war with Harris saying many people do not even get to hospital.

She cited a stabilization centre set up last week, saying the inpatients were typically children with medical illnesses as well as malnutrition.

"If you have got an underlying condition, malnutrition will kill you much more quickly, so they become the most urgent patients," she said.

On Monday, the Israeli army pulled out of Gaza City's Al-Shifa Hospital after a brutal two-week military raid that left much of the complex in ruins and bodies scattered on the dusty grounds.

The hospital was the biggest in the Palestinian territory.

"Al-Shifa Medical Complex is gone forever," its acting director Marwaan Abu Saadah said in a WHO video filmed at the scene.

Harris added: "It's no longer able to function in any shape or form as a hospital."

"Destroying Al-Shifa means ripping the heart out of the health system," she said, noting that it was a major hospital with 750 beds, 25 operating theatres and 30 intensive care wards.

Israel has killed at least 200 people inside the complex and detained hundreds more.


A Palestinian inspects the damage at Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital after the Israeli military withdrew from the complex housing the hospital on April 1, 2024. AFP


12:00 British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Tuesday that the UK had urged Israel to "provide a full, transparent explanation" about an air strike that killed seven aid workers, including at least one Briton, in Gaza.

"We have called on Israel to immediately investigate and provide a full, transparent explanation of what happened," Cameron said on social media, adding the UK was "urgently working to verify" details about the incident.

The US-based World Central Kitchen charity has blamed Israel for the strike Monday that killed seven of its staff unloading food brought by sea to the war-torn Gaza Strip to help alleviate looming famine.

The group has said it was pausing operations after the "targeted Israeli strike" killed Australian, British, Palestinian, Polish and US-Canadian staff.

The Israeli military has said it was "conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident."

In his first response, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was "shocked and saddened" by the reported death of the British aid worker, adding: "Clearly, there are questions that need to be answered."

Cameron, who was prime minister from 2010 to 2016 and returned to frontline politics last year as the UK's top diplomat, called news of the strike "deeply distressing."

"British Nationals are reported to have been killed, we are urgently working to verify this information and will provide full support to their families," he added.

"These were people who were working to deliver life-saving aid to those who desperately need it."

"It is essential that humanitarian workers are protected and able to carry out their work."

Cameron has become increasingly critical of aspects of Israel's war in Gaza, calling for more aid to be allowed into the territory.

11:00 France on late Monday proposed a draft United Nations Security Council resolution that seeks options for possible UN monitoring of a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and proposals to help the Palestinian Authority assume responsibilities, according to Reuters.

"It's an ambitious project. It will take time," French UN Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said of the text, which will need at least nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the four other permanent members: the United States, Britain, Russia, and China.

The draft resolution, seen by Reuters, also calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and demands the immediate and unconditional release of all Israeli still held in Gaza.

The United States abstained from a vote last month to allow the 15-member council to demand an immediate ceasefire for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ends next week, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

Israel rejected the resolution.

Alongside a push to end the war, global pressure has grown for a resumption of efforts to broker a two-state solution - with an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The draft Security Council resolution "decides that a negotiated solution should be achieved urgently through decisive and irreversible measures taken by parties towards a two-state solution where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace."

It also calls for the "massive delivery of humanitarian aid" to civilians in Gaza.

A global authority on food security has warned that famine is imminent in parts of Gaza, where more than three-quarters of the 2.3 million people have been forced from their homes and swathes of the territory are in ruins.


Palestinian women weep as the bodies of wounded and killed relatives are taken away from a residential building that was targeted in overnight bombardment on April 2, 2024 in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. AFP


10:00 An Israeli airstrike killed six international aid workers with the World Central Kitchen charity and their Palestinian driver, the aid group said Tuesday, as they were delivering food from its latest shipment to Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been pushed to the brink of famine by Israel’s offensive.

Footage showed the bodies of the dead at a hospital in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah. Several of them wore protective gear with the charity’s logo.

Those killed include three from Britain, one from Australia, one from Poland, and a US and Canadian dual citizen, according to hospital records.

The source of the fire late Monday could not be independently confirmed. The Israeli military said it was conducting a review “to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident.”

The food charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés said it was suspending its operations in the region.

The strike marked a potentially major setback to efforts to deliver aid by sea as Israel heavily restricts access to northern Gaza, where experts say famine is imminent.

“The WCK team was travelling in a deconflicted zone in two armoured cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle,” the charity said in a statement.

“Despite coordinating movements with the (Israeli army), 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.”

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

Three aid ships from the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus arrived earlier Monday carrying 400 tons of food and supplies organized by the charity and the United Arab Emirates, the group’s second shipment after a pilot run last month. 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 the UN has said much of the population is on the brink of starvation, 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 the military failed to ensure safe passage.

The UNRWA said in its latest report that 173 of its workers have been killed in Gaza. The figure does not include workers for other aid organizations.

The bodies of the aid workers have been taken to a hospital in the southern city of Rafah on the Egyptian border, according to an Associated Press reporter at the hospital.

The foreigners’ bodies will be evacuated out of Gaza and the Palestinian driver’s body will be handed to his family in Rafah for burial.


Relatives and friends mourn the death of Saif Abu Taha, a staff member of the US-based aid group World Central Kitchen who was killed as Israeli strikes hit a convoy of the NGO delivering food aid in Gaza a day earlier, during his funeral in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 2, 2024. AFP


World Central Kitchen board member Robert Egger and the media reported that the Australian killed in Monday night’s strike was 44-year-old Zomi Frankcom from Melbourne.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was urgently seeking to confirm reports of an Australian death.

In a statement, the department said: “We have been clear on the need for civilian lives to be protected in this conflict.”

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said Tuesday that he had asked the Israeli ambassador to Poland for "urgent explanations" after an Israeli strike killed seven aid workers in Gaza, including a Polish citizen.

"I personally asked the Israeli ambassador Yacov Livne for urgent explanations," Sikorski said on social media, adding that he had offered "condolences to the family of our brave volunteer" and saying Poland would open its inquiry into the aid worker's death.

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