America demands to know ‘exactly what happened’ after Israeli bombs killed seven World Central Kitchen food aid workers in Gaza: Antony Blinken calls victims ‘heroes’ who showed ‘the best of what humanity has to offer’

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • ‘We shouldn’t have a situation where people who are simply trying to help the fellow human beings are themselves at grave risk,’ Blinken said 
  • White House called the incident ‘outrageous’ but is awaiting an investigation
  • Said aid to Israel would continue despite calls from progressives for it to stop

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States has demanded the Israeli government investigate the bombing that led to the death of seven aid workers in Gaza who worked for Jose Andres World Central Kitchen.

‘We shouldn’t have a situation where people who are simply trying to help the fellow human beings are themselves at grave risk,’ he said on Tuesday.

‘We’ve spoken directly to the Israeli Government about this particular incident. We’ve urged a swift, thorough and impartial investigation to understand exactly what happened,’ he added. 

A U.S. national was among the aid workers killed.

‘We shouldn’t have a situation where people who are simply trying to help the fellow human beings are themselves at grave risk,’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken said

People inspect the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in Deir al-Balah, Gaza

People inspect the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in Deir al-Balah, Gaza

The team from the World Central Kitchen and their Palestinian driver were killed on Monday in central Gaza’s Deir al-Balah when their vehicle was struck after the group helped deliver food and other supplies to the region, the food charity said.

WCK said in a statement that a dual citizen of the US and Canada, three aid workers from the UK, an Australian, a Polish national and a Palestinian were killed. 

‘These people are heroes,’ Blinken said of the aid workers. ‘They run into the fire not away from it. They show the best of what humanity really has to offer when the going gets tough. They have to be protected.

‘We shouldn’t have a situation where the people trying to help their fellow human beings are themselves are at great risk.’

At least 196 aid workers have been killed in Gaza since the fighting began on Oct. 7, according to the United Nations, citing a figure from March 20. 

The White House called the strike ‘outrageous’ but said officials would wait for the results of an investigation before drawing wider conclusions.

‘We were outraged to learn of an [Israel Defense Forces]strike that killed a number of civilian humanitarian workers yesterday from the World Central Kitchen, which has been relentless and working to get food to those who are hungry in Gaza, and quite frankly, around the world,’ White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

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

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

Seven workers of the World Central Kitchen workers were killed by Israeli air strikes

Seven workers of the World Central Kitchen workers were killed by Israeli air strikes

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Rep. Pramila Jayapal

Sen. Bernie Sanders (left) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (right) are calling on President Joe Biden to end aid to Israel after seven aid workers were killed

And Kirby noted the administration would not stop weapons sales, putting down a demand from progressive lawmakers who urged President Joe Biden to stop all aid to Israel.

Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal led the charge in calling for an end of support to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

‘7 brave aid workers w/ @WCKitchen were killed by an Israeli airstrike today while trying to feed starving people in Gaza. Netanyahu called it an accident. Israel has killed more than 200 aid workers in 6 months. That’s not an accident. No more aid for Netanyahu’s war machine,’ Sanders wrote on X.

‘The latest horror inflicted by Netanyahu’s air strikes on Gaza—killing brave souls at @WCKitchen delivering food to starving Palestinians. Another strike also killed at least 15 Palestinians in Rafah, inclu 5 children. We must stop US military aid used for indiscriminate killing,’ Jayapal posted on the social media website.

Among the dead are Australian, the Polish national and the Palestinian have been named as Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom, Damian Sobol and Seif Issam Abu Taha respectively. The United States State Department  confirmed an American was killed. Canada still has not released a statement, while the UK said it is working with Israel on the matter.

Netanyahu called it a tragedy.

He said on Tuesday that Israeli forces had ‘unintentionally’ struck the workers for the internationally-known food charity.

‘Unfortunately, in the last day there was a tragic case of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people in the Gaza Strip,’ Netanyahu said. ‘It happens in war; we are fully examining this. We are in contact with the governments, and we will do everything so that this thing does not happen again.’

The charity workers were ‘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.’

United Nation workers examine the scene were seven staff from World Central Kitchen were killed in Gaza after delivering food

United Nation workers examine the scene were seven staff from World Central Kitchen were killed in Gaza after delivering food

Seven aid workers including a British man have been killed in an apparent Israeli air strike in Gaza , the World Central Kitchen charity has confirmed. Pictured: A destroyed car displaying the charity’s logo is seen from above on Tuesday

Celebrity chef José Andrés (pictured), the founder of the charity, said: 'Today WCKitchen lost several of our sisters and brothers in an IDF air strike in Gaza. I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family'

Celebrity chef José Andrés (pictured), the founder of the charity, said: ‘Today WCKitchen lost several of our sisters and brothers in an IDF air strike in Gaza. I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family’

WCK founder Jose Andres shared his sympathy and grief on X this morning

WCK founder Jose Andres shared his sympathy and grief on X this morning

They had just crossed in from the north after helping deliver aid that had arrived hours earlier on a ship from Cyprus, sources have claimed, and were killed on the Al Rashid Road, which runs parallel to the Mediterranean Sea. 

Harrowing footage shared online appeared to show the bodies of the dead at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital. Several of them wore protective gear with the charity’s logo. So far, only one person, the Australian, has been identified. 

The IDF today said it has launched a probe into the incident at the ‘highest levels’ and reiterated that not only has been it ‘working closely’ with the charity, but also ‘makes extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid’. 

The aid group, which is known for going into disaster and war zones to help those in need, has suspended operations in the Gaza region.

Andres said he was heartbroken. 

‘Today WCKitchen lost several of our sisters and brothers in an IDF air strike in Gaza. I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family. 

The team from the charity and their Palestinian driver were killed in central Gaza's Deir al-Balah when their vehicle (pictured) was struck on Monday, local media reported, after the group helped deliver food and other supplies to the region

The team from the charity and their Palestinian driver were killed in central Gaza’s Deir al-Balah when their vehicle (pictured) was struck on Monday, local media reported, after the group helped deliver food and other supplies to the region

WCK staff were seen mourning their dead colleagues as their bodies were loaded into an ambulance

WCK staff were seen mourning their dead colleagues as their bodies were loaded into an ambulance

World Central Kitchen workers gather around the bodies of their colleagues after they were transferred to Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah

World Central Kitchen workers gather around the bodies of their colleagues after they were transferred to Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah

‘These are people…angels…I served alongside in Ukraine, Gaza, Turkey, Morocco, Bahamas, Indonesia. They are not faceless…they are not nameless. 

‘The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing. It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon. 

‘No more innocent lives lost. Peace starts with our shared humanity. It needs to start now.’

The nonprofit group, founded in 2010, teams up with local food providers, governments and restaurateurs to quickly scale up and provide meals to people in need. 

The people of Gaza are suffering from famine-like conditions as aid has been difficult to get into the war-torn region.

World Central Kitchen said it operates 68 ‘community kitchens’ in Gaza, and has sent in more than 1,700 trucks loaded with food and cooking equipment so far in nearly six months of war. 

WCK CEO Erin Gore called it an attack on all humanitarian groups.

This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organisations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable.

‘I am heartbroken and appalled that we—World Central Kitchen and the world—lost beautiful lives today because of a targeted attack by the IDF. 

‘The love they had for feeding people, the determination they embodied to show that humanity rises above all, and the impact they made in countless lives will forever be remembered and cherished.’

WCK staff were seen mourning their dead colleagues as their bodies were loaded into an ambulance. 

The IDF responded to the airstrike deaths, with spokesperson Daniel Hagari saying: ‘Last night, an incident took place in Gaza that resulted in the tragic death of World Central Kitchen employees as they fulfilled their vital mission of bringing food to people in need. 

Lalzawmi

Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom (pictured), 44, from Melbourne , was killed along with three other international aid workers and a Palestinian driver, in Central Gaza, while working with the World Central Kitchen charity on Monday

People inspect the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in Deir al-Balah

People inspect the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in Deir al-Balah

People gather around the carcass of a car used by US-based aid group World Central Kitchen, that was hit by an Israeli strike the previous day in Deir al-Balah

People gather around the carcass of a car used by US-based aid group World Central Kitchen, that was hit by an Israeli strike the previous day in Deir al-Balah

‘As a professional military committed to international law, we are committed to examining our operations thoroughly and transparently. I just spoke to WCK Founder, Chef Jose Anders, and expressed the deepest condolences of the Israel Defense Forces to the families and the entire World Central Kitchen family. 

‘We also express sincere sorrow to our allied nations who have been doing and continue to do so much to assist those in need. We have been reviewing the incident at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of what happened and how it happened. 

‘We will be opening a probe to examine this serious incident further. This will help us reduce the risk of such an event from occurring again. The incident will be investigated in the Fact Finding and Assessment Mechanism: an independent, professional, and expert body. 

‘For the last few months, the IDF has been working closely with the World Central Kitchen to assist them in fulfilling their noble mission of helping bring food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. 

‘WCK also came to help Israelis after the massacre of October 7; they were one of the first NGOs here. The work of WCK is critical; they are on the frontlines of humanity. We will get to the bottom of this and we will share our findings transparently.’

The killings of the aid workers, who were traveling in clearly marked cars, drew condemnation from world leaders, humanitarian groups and prominent citizens.

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