Helena Lyng Blak
7 weeks ago

“Cold comfort”: The World Central Kitchen Responds to IDF Investigation Into Aid Workers Killings

More than 200 humanitarian workers have been killed in Gaza since October 2023.
Humanitarian aid entering Gaza in February 2024. Photo: Anas-Mohammed / Shutterstock.com
Humanitarian aid entering Gaza in February 2024. Photo: Anas-Mohammed / Shutterstock.com

At least 196 humanitarian workers have been killed in Gaza since October 2023, making it the most dangerous place in the world to be an aid worker, according to The International Rescue Committee (IRC).

Most recently, seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers died in an Israeli airstrike.

The seven workers were killed as their convoy was leaving a warehouse in the city of Deir al-Balah where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of food aid.

According to the WCK, the team was traveling in two armored cars, which carried the WCK logo, and a soft-skin vehicle, and had coordinated movements with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

After conducting an investigation into the incident, the IDF claimed that the forces had identified two gunmen on the aid vehicles and mistakenly assumed they were Hamas operatives.

According to a press release from the IDF on Friday, the strikes were in violation of “the commands and IDF Standard Operating Procedures” and “should not have occurred”.

As a result of the IDF's investigation two people were dismissed from their positions, and three people were formally reprimanded.

“Their apologies for the outrageous killing of our colleagues represent cold comfort,” WCK CEO Erin Gore responds to the IDF investigation. “It’s cold comfort for the victims’ families and WCK’s global family.”

Following the killings, the United Nations halted its nighttime humanitarian work for 48 hours. WCK and other charities’ aid operations remain suspended.

According to UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, the deaths of the aid workers thereby have a “double impact”.

“It has a real impact on people who depend on these organizations to receive aid,” he said, according to UN News. “But it also has a psychological and chilling effect on humanitarian workers, both Palestinians and international, who continue to do their utmost to deliver aid to those who need it at great personal risk.” 

The WCK demands the creation of an independent commission to investigate the killings, stating; “Without systemic change, there will be more military failures, more apologies and more grieving families.”

Of the seven dead, Gore says; “These are the heroes of World Central Kitchen … we have countless memories of them giving their best selves to the world. We are reeling from our loss. The world's loss.”

The seven are: Palestinian Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, age 25, Australian Lalzawmi (Zomi) Frankcom, age 43, Polish Damian Soból, age 35, American-Canadian Jacob Flickinger, age 33, and British John Chapman, age 57, James (Jim) Henderson, age 33, and James Kirby, age 47.

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