02 Apr 2024, 08:39
Update : 02 Apr 2024, 11:29

Aid workers killed in strike on Gaza

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories, April 2, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - A food aid
organisation said an Israeli strike killed several of its workers in the
besieged Gaza Strip on Monday, with the health ministry in the Hamas-run
territory reporting that four of them were foreigners.

"Today, World Central Kitchen lost several of its sisters and brothers in an
Israeli army strike in Gaza," said the NGO's founder, chef Jose Andres.

World Central Kitchen, a US-headquartered organisation, called the incident a
"tragedy" and reiterated that "humanitarian aid workers and civilians should
never be a target".

According to the health ministry in Gaza, the bodies of four foreign aid
workers and their Palestinian driver were brought to a hospital in the town
of Deir el-Balah after an Israeli strike targeted their vehicle.

Hamas said the aid workers included "British, Australian and Polish
nationalities, with the fourth nationality not known".

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed one of his country's
citizens, volunteer Zomi Frankcom, was among those killed.

World Central Kitchen is one of two international NGOs spearheading efforts
to deliver aid to Gaza by boat from Cyprus.

It is also involved in the construction of a temporary jetty in the coastal

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

"We are heartbroken and deeply troubled by the strike that... killed
@WCKitchen aid workers in Gaza," White House National Security Council
spokesperson Adrienne Watson posted on social media platform X.

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

The Israeli military said it was "conducting a thorough review at the highest
levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident".

Israel has come under immense pressure to increase the flow of humanitarian
aid into the strip after six months of war and stark warnings from the United
Nations about the dire levels of hunger stalking all 2.4 million Gazans.

A UN-backed report warned on March 19 that half of Gazans were feeling
"catastrophic" hunger and projected imminent famine in the territory's north.

- Near-total blockade -

Since Hamas's October 7 attacks triggered the war, Gaza has been under a
near-complete blockade, with the United Nations accusing Israel of preventing
deliveries of humanitarian aid.

The world's top court has ordered Israel to "ensure urgent humanitarian
assistance" in Gaza without delay, saying "famine is setting in".

Foreign powers have ramped up deliveries by air and sea, although UN agencies
and charities warn this falls far short of what is desperately needed, with
trucks still the most efficient way of delivering aid.

The airdrops have also proved deadly in some cases, leading to chaotic
stampedes for food.

After the UN-backed report last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
said it was the first time an entire population had been classified at severe
levels of "acute" food insecurity.

The bloodiest-ever Gaza war erupted with Hamas's unprecedented October
attack, which resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians,
according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory campaign, aimed at destroying Hamas, has killed at least
32,845 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in

On Tuesday, the ministry said 70 people had been killed across the Gaza Strip
in the past 24 hours.

- Al-Shifa hospital in ruins -

On Monday, the Israeli army pulled out of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City
after an intensive, two-week military operation against Hamas transformed the
territory's largest medical complex into charred ruins.

"There are more terrorists in the hospital than patients or medical staff,"
Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said, adding that 900 people had been
apprehended at the sprawling complex, with over 500 of them "definitely"

A spokesman for Gaza's civil defence agency said Israeli forces had killed
about 300 people in and around the hospital during the two-week operation.
"People trapped in Al-Shifa hospital died of hunger. Some drank water from
bathroom drains," Palestinian Anwar el Jondi said.

Medics carting patients and bodies from the destroyed site had to manoeuver
stretchers between mounds of rubble.

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

An AFP correspondent saw one badly decomposed body bearing tyre marks,
although it was not known when it was driven over.

- 'Dangerous lie' -

The Israeli military said Monday that 600 soldiers had been killed since the
start of the war.

During their attack on Israel, Palestinian militants also seized around 250
hostages. Israel believes about 130 remain in Gaza, including 34 presumed

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under rising pressure from the
families of hostages as well as anti-government protesters, whose nightly
rallies have drawn thousands onto the streets.

On Monday, Netanyahu vowed to ban broadcasts from Israel by Qatar-based news
channel Al Jazeera, after the Israeli parliament granted him new powers. He
called it a "terrorist channel".

The broadcaster said the Israeli prime minister's comments were a "dangerous,
ludicrous lie".

The war in Gaza has raised fears of a wider regional conflagration, with
repeated violence linked to the conflict in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.
Those fears intensified on Monday with strikes in Damascus on the consular
annex of Israel's arch-foe Iran, according to Damascus and Tehran.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor based in Britain, said
11 people were killed.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said seven members were killed,
including two senior officers, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi and
Brigadier General Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi.

Israel did not comment, but Iran's foreign minister blamed the United States
for the attack.

"The Americans must take responsibility," Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein
Amir-Abdollahian said, according to state news agency IRNA.

The UN Security Council will on Tuesday hold a public meeting, requested by
Russia, on the strike, according to Russian representative Dmitry Polyansky.

  • Latest News
  • Most View