José Andrés Honors 7 World Central Kitchen Aid Workers Killed in Gaza Airstrikes

Tragic loss of 7 WCK aid workers killed in Gaza airstrike, sparking calls for Israel to protect civilians and aid workers in war zones. Chef José Andrés demands independent investigation into the killings.

Hadeel Hashem
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José Andrés Honors 7 World Central Kitchen Aid Workers Killed in Gaza Airstrikes

José Andrés Honors 7 World Central Kitchen Aid Workers Killed in Gaza Airstrikes

On Thursday, celebrity chef José Andrés held a memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral to honor seven aid workers from his charity, World Central Kitchen (WCK), who were killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. The service, attended by hundreds, including families of the victims, WCK staff, U.S. officials, and diplomats from over 30 countries, paid tribute to the workers Andrés called "the best of humanity."

The seven aid workers - Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, John Chapman, Jacob Flickinger, Lalzawmi Frankcom, James Henderson, James Kirby, and Damian Sobol - were killed on April 1 when their convoy was struck by munitions fired from Israeli armed drones. They were on a food delivery mission in Gaza, where WCK had been active in feeding people since the start of the war in October.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged that the attack was a mistake, prompting worldwide criticism and a demand from President Biden to make it easier to get aid into Gaza. Israel said the military officials involved in the strike had violated policy by acting based on a single grainy photo that incorrectly showed one of the workers was armed.

Why this matters: The deaths of the aid workers have intensified calls for Israel's military to change its operations in Gaza to protect civilians and aid workers facing a humanitarian crisis. The incident also highlights the risks faced by humanitarian organizations working in war zones to provide essential aid to those in need.

In an emotional speech, Andrés praised each worker's contributions and called for an investigation into the killings, saying the official explanation was "not good enough." "There is no excuse for these killings. None," he stated. The service included readings and prayers from different religious traditions, as well as a musical tribute by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

World Central Kitchen, along with other humanitarian agencies, temporarily suspended work in Gaza after the attack but vowed to continue its mission. Andrés emphasized that a plate of food is a "plate of hope" and a message that someone cares. He cited inspiration from John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" and said the workers' example should inspire people to be better.

The killings have raised concerns about the safety of humanitarian workers in war zones and the severe lack of food in Gaza. Andrés said the world's leaders should be expected to live by the same standards set by the slain aid workers, who risked everything to feed people they did not know. "The official explanation was not good enough," he reiterated, demanding an independent investigation into the actions of the Israeli forces.

Key Takeaways

  • 7 WCK aid workers killed by Israeli drone strike in Gaza on April 1
  • Israel acknowledged attack was a mistake, drawing worldwide criticism
  • Memorial service held at Washington National Cathedral to honor victims
  • Andrés demands independent investigation, calls killings "not good enough"
  • Incident highlights risks faced by humanitarian workers in war zones