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‘Several’ foreign aid workers killed in Israeli strike

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 last night.

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.

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 said in a radio interview with state broadcaster ABC that the country’s foreign ministry was “urgently investigating” the reports.

An Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said reports of the death of an Australian aid worker were very distressing.

“We have been clear on the need for civilian lives to be protected in this conflict. We have been very clear that we expect humanitarian workers in Gaza to have safe and unimpeded access to do their lifesaving work,” the spokesperson said.

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

Hamas said in a statement that the aid workers included “British, Australian and Polish nationalities, with the fourth nationality not known”, and that the fifth person killed was a Palestinian driver and translator.

At the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir el-Balah, an AFP correspondent saw five bodies with three foreign passports lying nearby.

World Central Kitchen has been involved in delivering the aid arriving by boat from Cyprus, and in the construction of a temporary jetty in Gaza.

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 pandemic and people in conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

Mr Andres said on X that 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 airstrike on a house killed six people in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians were sheltering.

A child pictured near a makeshift tent in Rafah

Since Hamas’s October 7 attack, Gaza has been under a near-complete blockade, with the United Nations accusing Israel of preventing deliveries of humanitarian aid urgently needed by 2.4 million Palestinians.

UN agencies have warned repeatedly that northern Gaza is on the verge of famine, calling the situation a man-made crisis because aid lorries are backed up on the Egypt-Gaza border awaiting long checks by Israeli officials. Israel has denied responsibility.

Two charities have organised aid deliveries by sea from Cyprus, with the second flotilla, setting sail Saturday with around 400 tonnes of supplies, a fraction of Gaza’s needs.

Hamas’s 7 October attack resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory campaign has killed at least 32,845 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza.




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