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Seven aid workers killed in Israeli strike in Gaza

Photo: Abdel Kareem Hana Associated Press The destroyed carcass of a vehicle in Deir el-Balah, in the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday, where the bodies of aid workers from the American NGO World Central Kitchen were found.

Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Benoît Finck – Agence France-Presse respectively in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem

1:30 p.m.

  • Middle East

Israel on Tuesday admitted an “unintentional” strike in the Gaza Strip that killed seven employees of the humanitarian NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) delivering food to the besieged Palestinian territory threatened with famine.

Based in the United States, WCK, one of the few NGOs still operating in the Palestinian territory devastated by nearly six months of war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas, announced “suspending its operations in the region” after the strike on Monday in Deir al-Balah (center).

Several countries and organizations have condemned the raid, with some demanding “explanations” from Israel, whose army is carrying out a large-scale offensive in Gaza, in retaliation for an attack of unprecedented scale on Israeli soil, October 7.

“Unfortunately yesterday [Monday] there was a tragic incident where our forces unintentionally struck innocent people in the Gaza Strip,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

“This happens in a war, we will check until the end, we are in contact with the governments and will do everything to ensure that this never happens again,” he added.

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Targeted attack

“Devastated”, the NGO WCK confirmed that “seven members of the team were killed in Gaza in a strike by Israeli forces”.

“I am heartbroken and dismayed that we, World Central Kitchen and the world, lost beautiful lives today due to a targeted attack by Israeli forces,” said WCK President Erin Gore .

The victims were “from Australia, Poland, the United Kingdom, [and also included] a citizen with dual American and Canadian nationality and a Palestinian person”, according to the NGO.

Since the start of the war, WCK has participated in humanitarian operations, including providing meals in the Palestinian territory, where the majority of the approximately 2.4 million residents are at risk of starvation, according to the 'UN. She helped send the first aid boat from Cyprus to Gaza in mid-March.

Historical allies of Israel, the United States have called for a “rapid and impartial” investigation. Britain summoned the Israeli ambassador on Tuesday to express its “unequivocal condemnation” of the deaths of the seven people, including three Britons.

The WCK victims were taken to Deir el-Balah hospital. An AFP correspondent saw five bodies and three foreign passports near the remains.

In an AFP image we can see the body of one of the victims wearing a black T-shirt with the NGO logo. Others show the wrecked carcass of the vehicle, a gaping hole in the roof, right over the WCK logo.

Nearly 33,000 dead

Since the start of the war, several NGOs present in Gaza have claimed that their employees or sites had been hit by Israeli strikes.

On October 7, Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza carried out an attack in southern Israel. This offensive led to the death of at least 1,160 people, mainly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official data. According to Israel, around 250 people were kidnapped and 130 of them are still hostages, including 34 who died in Gaza.

Voying to destroy Hamas, Israel launched a campaign of intense aerial bombardment on Gaza, followed by a ground assault that allowed its soldiers to advance from the north to the south of the small strip of land.

At least 32,916 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Israeli operations, the Hamas health ministry said, noting more than 70 Palestinians killed in the past 24 hours in the incessant Israeli bombings.

Destructions, corpses

On Monday, after 18 days of operations, Israeli soldiers withdrew from the al-Chifa hospital complex in Gaza, leaving behind immense destruction and dead bodies.

Soldiers “killed more than 200 terrorists and arrested more than 900 people suspected of terrorism” at the site of the ruined hospital, the army said after accusing Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union, for using the hospital as a “command center”.

The Hamas-led Gaza Civil Defense reported 300 deaths in and around the hospital in Israeli operations.

Doctors and civilians at the complex told AFP that at least 20 bodies had been found, some of which appeared to have been driven over by military vehicles.

“Condemnation and denunciation are not enough in the face of the crimes that continue in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem,” declared Tuesday at the opening of the council of ministers the Prime Minister of Palestinian Authority, Mohammed Mustafa.

According to him, the operation in al-Chifa is a “real war crime”.

The war has also exacerbated fears of a conflagration in the region. On Monday, 13 people were killed in an unprecedented raid blamed on Israel against the consular section of the Iranian embassy in Damascus, according to state television in Tehran.

Iran vowed to retaliate for “the Zionist regime's” raid, while the European Union called for “restraint.”

Ottawa condemns Israeli strike

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Canada condemns the airstrike launched by the Israeli army that killed seven aid workers in the Gaza Strip.

Ms. Joly's statement Tuesday morning comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledges that Israeli armed forces carried out an “unintentional strike” that killed “innocent people.”

World Central Kitchen claims its employees were killed while delivering food. Among the dead is a worker with dual Canadian and American citizenship.

On the X network, Ms. Joly indicated that Canada expects those responsible for the “killings” and strikes against humanitarian personnel to be held to account.

“Attacks against humanitarian personnel are absolutely unacceptable. International humanitarian law must be respected,” she added.

The Liberal minister also stated that a full investigation is necessary and that Canada will inform the Israeli government directly.

The Canadian Press

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116