Asia/South Asia
20 days ago

Israel airstrike on Gaza kills foreign aid workers, Hamas-run media office says

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At least five employees of the World Central Kitchen (WCK) non-governmental organisation, including foreigners, were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza, the Hamas-run Gaza government media office said late on Monday.

Those killed in the incident in central Gaza's Deir al-Balah included citizens of Poland, Australia and Britain, as well as one Palestinian, a spokesperson for the media office said.

"We are aware of reports that members of the World Central Kitchen team have been killed in an IDF attack while working to support our humanitarian food delivery efforts in Gaza," WCK posted on X. "This is a tragedy. Humanitarian aid workers and civilians should NEVER be a target. EVER."

In a statement, the Islamist group Hamas said the attack aimed to "terrorise" workers of international humanitarian agencies and deter them from pursuing their missions.

Commenting on the reports, the Israeli military said it was conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of what it called a tragic incident.

"The IDF makes extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, and has been working closely with WCK in their vital efforts to provide food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza," the military statement said.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed the death of Australian aid worker Lalzawmi "Zomi" Frankcom and said his government had contacted Israel to demand those responsible be held accountable.

"This is a human tragedy that should never have occurred, that is completely unacceptable and Australia will seek full and proper accountability," he said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Albanese said innocent civilians and those doing humanitarian work needed to be protected and reiterated his call for a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza along with more aid to help those suffering from "tremendous deprivation."

Video obtained by Reuters showed paramedics moving bodies into a hospital and displaying the passports of three of those killed.

'HEARTBROKEN AND GRIEVING'

The WCK delivers food relief and prepares meals for people in need. It said last month it had served more than 42 million meals in Gaza over 175 days.

Chef Jose Andres started the WCK in 2010 by sending cooks and food to Haiti after an earthquake. The organisation has since delivered food for communities hit by natural disasters, refugees at the US border, healthcare workers during the Covid pandemic and people in conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

Andres said on X he was heartbroken and grieving for the families and friends of those who died in the airstrike.

"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," he said.

Palestinian health officials said a separate Israeli air strike on a house killed six people in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians were sheltering.

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