1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Seven foreign aid workers killed in Gaza airstrike

April 2, 2024

The World Central Kitchen says that seven of its staff members have been killed "in an IDF attack." The Israel Defense Forces says it is "conducting a thorough review" following the incident.

Food aid from the U.S. charity World Central Kitchen and the United Arab Emirates is seen being loaded aboard a second vessel preparing to depart Cyprus for Gaza, March 15, 2024.
Aid ships have delivered much-needed food in northern and central GazaImage: Petros Karadjias/AP Photo/picture alliance

The World Central Kitchen (WCK) said on Tuesday that it had suspended its operations after seven of its employees were killed in what they said was a "targeted" Israeli air strike in central Gaza.

Confirming initial reports from the Hamas-run Gaza media office late on Monday, the Spanish aid organization listed those killed as citizens of Australia, Poland and the United Kingdom, as well as a Palestinian and a dual US/Canadian citizen.

The WCK said its staff were traveling in two armored cars clearly marked with the WCK logo and in coordination with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) when they were hit leaving warehouse in Deir al-Balah.

"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. This is unforgivable," said WCK chief executive Erin Gore.

"I am heartbroken and appalled that we – World Central Kitchen and the world – lost beautiful lives today because of a targeted attack by the IDF," she continued.

"The love they had for feeding people, the determination they embodied to show that humanity rises above all, and the impact they made in countless lives will forever be remembered and cherished."

World Central Kitchen badge on the body armor of one of the dead aid workers
The World Central Kitchen said it was aware of the reports that members of its team had been killed and said aid workers and civilians should "never be a target"Image: Mohammed Saber/EPA

The IDF said in a statement that it was "conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident."

It said: "The IDF makes extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, and has been working closely with WCK in their vital efforts to provide food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza."

Australian foreign ministry 'urgently investigating'

Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese told the country's public broadcaster ABC that foreign ministry was "urgently investigating" the reports.

"I'm very concerned about the loss of life that is occurring in Gaza," he said. "My government has supported a sustainable cease-fire with calls for the release of hostages, and there have been far too many innocent lives of Palestinians and Israelis lost during the Gaza Hamas conflict."

The incident took place on the day a second shipment of food aid arrived by sea near Gaza in a flotilla organized by both the WCK and the Spanish group Open Arms.

The organizations shipped nearly 400 tons of food amid UN warnings that famine was imminent in the north of the Palestinian territory.

Aid ship in Cyprus ready to set sail

The war in Gaza was sparked after Hamas militants launched a large-scale terror attack in southern Israel on October 7 last year, in which 1,200 people were killed and some 250 hostages taken.

Israel's leadership vowed to destroy Hamas and a military offensive was launched.

The Health Ministry in Gaza says at least 32,845 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed in the Israel-Hamas war, and a further 75,392 people have been wounded.

mf, kb/rm (Reuters, AP)