Apr 3, 2024 - World

José Andrés calls aid workers' deaths "direct result" of Israel war policy

A view of damaged vehicle carrying World Central Kitchen workers in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on April 2

A view of damaged vehicle carrying World Central Kitchen workers in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on April 2. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Chef José Andrés said Wednesday that the deaths of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers were the "direct result" of Israeli policy in its war with Hamas.

The big picture: The Israeli strike that killed the aid workers comes amid a widening rift between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Biden, who has steadfastly supported Israel in the conflict.

  • Biden said he was "outraged" by the deaths and blamed Israel for not doing enough to protect aid workers delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza, where hundreds of thousands face the prospect of famine.

Driving the news: "The seven people killed on a World Central Kitchen mission in Gaza on Monday were the best of humanity," Andrés wrote in a New York Times guest essay Wednesday.

  • Andrés underscored WCK's work in helping get food to both Israelis and Palestinians during the war and made an impassioned plea for Israel to "open more land routes for food and medicine" to Gaza.
  • Andrés also dismissed Netanyahu's apology for the strike as something that "happens in war."
  • The strike was a "direct attack" on aid workers traveling in clearly marked vehicles, having coordinated their movements with the Israel Defense Forces, Andrés said.
  • "It was also the direct result of a policy that squeezed humanitarian aid to desperate levels" by forcing aid to be delivered by sea, he added.

What they're saying: "You cannot save the hostages by bombing every building in Gaza. You cannot win this war by starving an entire population," Andrés wrote.

  • The celebrated chef added that "it is not a sign of weakness to feed strangers; it is a sign of strength. The people of Israel need to remember, at this darkest hour, what strength truly looks like."

Zoom in: The aid workers killed were from different parts of the world and had worked with World Central Kitchen in other parts of the world, Andrés said.

  • Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, 25, Palestinian;
  • Lalzawmi "Zomi" Frankcom, 43, Australian;
  • Damian Soból, 35, Polish;
  • Jacob Flickinger, 33, dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada;
  • John Chapman, 57, British
  • James Henderson, 33, British
  • James Kirby, 47, British

The other side: The preliminary IDF debrief into the WCK incident shows the strike was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK workers, but was a mistake that followed a misidentification, at night, in very complex conditions, IDF Chief of Staff Halevi said.

The latest: The bodies of the six foreign aid workers were transported to Egypt on Wednesday ahead of being repatriated, AP reported.

  • The 25-year-old Palestinian aid worker was buried in his hometown of Rafah on Tuesday, the BBC reported.

Zoom out: Biden's support for Israel has also put him at odds with members of his own party and voters. Recent polling shows the majority of Americans now oppose Israel's actions in Gaza.

  • The Biden administration has expressed concerns with the human toll that Israel's military operation into the southern Gaza city of Rafah would have.

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