Israeli Airstrike Kills 7 Aid Workers, Including 3 Britons, in Gaza

Deadly airstrike on World Central Kitchen convoy in Gaza kills aid workers, strains Israel-international relations, and halts crucial food aid to the region.

Muthana Al-Najjar
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Israeli Airstrike Kills 7 Aid Workers, Including 3 Britons, in Gaza

Israeli Airstrike Kills 7 Aid Workers, Including 3 Britons, in Gaza

James Kirby, a 47-year-old aid worker from Bristol, was one of three British aid workers killed in an Israeli airstrike on a World Central Kitchen (WCK) convoy in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, on April 1, 2024. The attack also claimed the lives of aid workers from Australia, Poland, Palestine, and a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen.

The convoy was leaving a warehouse in central Gaza where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of food when it was struck by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). WCK, a non-profit organization founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, immediately suspended its food aid operations in the region following the incident, which it described as an "unforgivable" attack on humanitarian workers.

The IDF expressed "sincere sorrow" over the deaths and launched an in-depth investigation led by its most senior ranking officers. The probe revealed "grave mistakes" stemming from "serious operational failures, mistaken classification and identification errors in decision making, and strikes that were conducted in violation of standard operation procedures." Two officers were dismissed, and three commanders were formally reprimanded as a result of the findings.

However, WCK is demanding an independent commission to investigate the killings, stating that the IDF cannot credibly investigate its own failure. Chef José Andrés condemned the incident, calling it an "attack on humanitarian organizations" and an "unforgivable" use of food as a weapon of war.

Why this matters: The deadly airstrike on the WCK convoy highlights the dangers faced by humanitarian workers in conflict zones and raises concerns about the Israeli military's targeting practices in Gaza. The incident has strained relations between Israel and the international community, with several countries demanding explanations and accountability for the loss of civilian lives.

The attack occurred amid a near-total blockade of Gaza, which has led to a dire humanitarian crisis and warnings of imminent famine. The White House National Security Council spokesperson urged Israel to swiftly investigate the incident, emphasizing that humanitarian aid workers must be protected. The war in Gaza has also raised fears of a wider regional conflict, with related violence in other parts of the Middle East.

James Kirby's family described him as a "hero" who was "completely selfless" and "just wanted to help people." The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged the strike and described it as "tragic and unintentional." The Polish government and the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the incident and demanded a thorough investigation. As a result of the deadly airstrike, WCK has temporarily halted its operations in Gaza, and a cargo ship carrying 240 metric tons of food destined for the region returned to Cyprus on April 5, 2024.</p

Key Takeaways

  • 3 British aid workers killed in IDF airstrike on WCK convoy in Gaza on April 1, 2024.
  • IDF investigation found "grave mistakes" and "serious operational failures" in the attack.
  • WCK demands independent probe, condemns attack as "unforgivable" use of food as weapon.
  • Incident strains Israel-international relations, raises concerns about humanitarian aid in Gaza.
  • WCK halts Gaza operations, cargo ship returns after attack; 2 officers dismissed, 3 commanders reprimanded.