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World Central Kitchen identifies 7 aid workers killed in Gaza strike

Seven aid workers with World Central Kitchen were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. The nonprofit has now identified the victims.
Aid worker posted about her work before deadly attack in Gaza
Posted at 2:58 PM, Apr 02, 2024

Seven aid workers with the nonprofit World Central Kitchen were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza late Monday.

The disaster relief nonprofit identified the victims Tuesday evening as 25-year-old Palestinian Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, 35-year-old Damian Sobol from Poland, 33-year-old Jacob Flinkinger, a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, and three men from the U.K — 57-year-old John Chapman, 33-year-old James (Jim) Henderson and 47-year-old James Kirby. Also among the identified victims was 43-year-old Australian Zomi Frankcom, notable for her prior social media posts documenting her humanitarian efforts in Gaza.

The charred wreckage of one of the vehicles still shows the World Central Kitchen logo prominently displayed on its roof, along with the hole left behind by an Israeli strike — a strike that Israel admits it is responsible for launching.

World Central Kitchen founder and celebrity Chef Jose Andres said on the social media platform X, "I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family," and added, "They are not faceless — they are not nameless. The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing."

For its part, the Israel Defense Forces said it is investigating the incident.

"We have been reviewing the incident in the highest levels to understand the circumstances of what happened and how it happened," said IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari. "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."

Israel's defense ministry quickly released a list of steps it said it is taking since the airstrike, including:

1. Establishing a team to investigate the incident

2. Opening a joint situation room to coordinate between the IDF and international organizations

3. Supporting distribution mechanisms by allocating appropriate resources

4. Briefing international organizations and partners on the details of the incident and actions being taken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, traveling in France on Tuesday, said this about the deaths of the World Central Kitchen aid workers:

SEE MORE: World Central Kitchen charity halts Gaza ops after Israeli strike

"We've spoken directly to the Israeli government about this particular incident. We've urged a swift, a thorough and impartial investigation to understand exactly what happened," Blinken said. "And as we have throughout this conflict, we've impressed upon the Israelis the absolute imperative of doing more to protect innocent civilian lives."

President Joe Biden released a statement on the deaths of the seven World Central Kitchen workers in Gaza, saying in part: "I am outraged and heartbroken by the deaths of seven humanitarian workers from World Central Kitchen, including one American, in Gaza yesterday. They were providing food to hungry civilians in the middle of a war. They were brave and selfless. Their deaths are a tragedy."

Questions remain about the circumstances around the WCK incident. The aid convoy had reportedly been in touch with Israeli forces about their location, prior to the strike.

Bellingcat, an investigative journalism group which partners with Scripps News on some reporting, said its visual investigation into the incident shows that multiple munitions hit the convoy.

"I would call it a single airstrike, but there are multiple munitions fired, which hit multiple vehicles over — almost kind of two kilometer distance," said Bellingcat's Nick Waters.

Bellingcat also said the road where the convoy airstrike occurred is a well-known one used by aid groups to ferry supplies up and down the Gaza Strip.

"They would have been surveilling that convoy before they struck it ... So, they would have had eyes on that convoy, and I find it very difficult to believe they would not have seen that logo on the roof of that vehicle," Waters said. "You know, there are lots of questions about this strike that the IDF need to answer, and Israel as a state needs to answer."

In the meantime, World Central Kitchen has suspended its operations in Gaza.

A second shipment of food from the nonprofit had been on its way to Gaza when the airstrike happened. That ship has now been turned around and is heading back to a port in Cyprus.

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