World Central Kitchen suspends Gaza aid after Israeli strike kills seven members

World Central Kitchen suspends Gaza aid after Israeli strike kills seven members
The US-based charity was one of the main organisations supplying aid to starving northern Gaza as part of the sea corridor from Cyprus.
3 min read
02 April, 2024
Seven members of World Central Kitchen were killed in an Israeli drone strike on their vehicles [Getty]

The US-based charity, World Central Kitchen (WCK) announced it will suspend humanitarian operations in Gaza for the foreseeable future following the killing of seven of its staff in an Israeli airstrike.

As part of the suspension the organisation has also decided to re-route its second aid shipment that had set sail from Cyprus to Gaza on Saturday as part of the humanitarian sea corridor.

The organisation's CEO Erin Gore called Israel's attack "an attack on humanitarian organisations showing up in the most dire situations."

"I am heartbroken and appalled hat we—World Central Kitchen and the world—lost beautiful lives today because of a targeted attack by the IDF," she added.

The three-ship humanitarian convoy had intended to deliver hundreds of tons of food to alleviate starvation in Gaza, as well as heavy machinery intended to expedite the deliveries.


Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, one of the main backers of the sea corridor, stated that the initiative would "continue as long as the humanitarian needs are there".

The charity American Near East Refugee Aid also announced on Tuesday it was suspending its aid operations following the incident.  

The Israeli air strikes killed three British nationals, as well as an Australian, Polish, and US-Canadian nationals and a Palestinian.

"Unintentionally killed"

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that the Israeli military had "unintentionally" killed the aid workers and that an investigation would be launched.

His comments echoed Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari, who announced that the incident would be investigated in the army's "Fact Finding and Assessment Mechanism" department.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israeli military sources said that the operations room responsible for the strike was aiming to target an armed man who accompanied the convoy to a warehouse in Deir al-Balah.

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As the convoy was traveling back down the Al-Rashid road to southern Gaza, a total of three drone strikes struck the convoy whose vehicles were marked WCK's logo.

Following each strike the WCK vehicles stopped to collect wounded WCK colleagues.

As the attack was unfolding, WCK staffers had notified the military that they were under attack to no avail. The attempt to notify the military to call off the attacks came following prior coordination with the military for the mission.

UK foreign Minister David Cameron condemned the incident, reiterating that it was "essential that humanitarian workers are protected and able to carry out their work."

"We have called on Israel to immediately investigate and provide a full, transparent explanation of what happened."

His comments come alongside condemnations and calls for investigations from Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.

Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot said that the strike was part of a "pattern" to "enforce famine" in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking with The New Arab, UNRWA's Director of Communications Juliette Touma said the organisation was "devastated" at the news, and that this incident highlights the reality that nobody is safe in Gaza; "Gaza has become the most dangerous place to be an aid worker in right now."

Touma also said that UNRWA had the logistical capabilities to take up the humanitarian responsibilities left by WCK's decision to suspend its operations in Gaza, but that Israel was preventing UNRWA from sending aid northwards, contrary to both ICJ and UN Security council rulings.

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"We need a change in the political will from the Israeli government to allow the agency to take its supplies and travel up north as soon as possible and without any delay."

"We have four thousand people working with the agency on the ground, we are the largest, we are able to do this, what we need is the authorization of the Israeli government," she added.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed 32,916 Palestinians, mostly women and children, with a further 75,500 wounded.