Updated Apr 2, 2024 - World

"Unforgivable": José Andrés' NGO says 7 aid workers killed in Gaza strike

Two men, one wearing a black World Central Kitchen "relief team" t-shirt, hug each other as they receive the bodies of aid workers who were killed by Israeli air strikes in Gaza.

Two men hug each other Tuesday, April 2, as they receive the bodies of World Central Kitchen workers who were killed by Israeli air strikes in Gaza. Photo: Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

Seven aid workers from chef José Andrés' World Central Kitchen were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip on Monday, the NGO said in a statement.

The big picture: Andrés' organization has been leading the efforts to get food to Gaza by sea, and has delivered tons of supplies to the enclave via a ship from Cyprus over the past few weeks.

  • World Central Kitchen said it was pausing its operations in the area after the attack, and the Israeli military said it has "been reviewing the incident at the highest levels."
  • Andrés' group said the seven killed were from Australia, Poland, the U.K. and Palestine. One was a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada.
  • British Foreign Secretary David Cameron confirmed in a post on X Tuesday that three British citizens were among those killed, calling their deaths "completely unacceptable."

What they're saying: "This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war," World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore said in a statement early Tuesday morning.

  • "This is unforgivable."
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the strike "a tragic incident of an unintentional targeting of innocent civilians in Gaza that we regret."
  • "It happens during war and we are thoroughly investigating this," he said in the statement Tuesday. "We will do everything to prevent this from happening again."

The latest: World Central Kitchen said the targeted team "was traveling in a deconflicted zone in two armored cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle."

  • "Despite coordinating movements with the IDF, the convoy was hit as it was 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," the statement said.
  • The IDF "will be opening a probe to examine this serious incident further," Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a statement Tuesday. "This will help us reduce the risk of such an event from occurring again."

On Monday night, Andrés said on X that he was "heartbroken and grieving" for the members of the organization who were killed.

  • "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," he said.
  • Hagari said he had spoken with Andrés and "expressed the deepest condolences of the Israel Defense Forces."
  • "The work of WCK is critical; they are on the frontlines of humanity," Hagari said. "We will get to the bottom of this and we will share our findings transparently."

Zoom in: White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a post to X that Biden administration officials were "heartbroken and deeply troubled by the strike" that killed the aid workers.

  • "Humanitarian aid workers must be protected as they deliver aid that is desperately needed, and we urge Israel to swiftly investigate what happened," she added.

Zoom out: The U.S., the UN and many aid organizations have been urging Israel's government for months to do more to improve its deconfliction mechanisms to avoid targeting aid convoys.

  • The Biden administration raised this issue on a very high level with the Israeli government several times, but there was little change on the ground, U.S. officials say.

Go deeper: Scoop: Inside José Andrés' risky mission to get food to Gaza

Editor's note: This article has been updated with a new death toll, as well as statements from World Central Kitchen and the IDF.

Go deeper