Jose Andres: World Central Kitchen founder criticises Israel over Gaza air strike

Chef blames Israel for the attack as his charity insists aid workers should never be targeted

Australian citizen Lalzawmi Frankcom, left, was among the World Central Kitchen employees killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza. Reuters
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The founder of a food charity operating in Gaza has criticised Israel for the "indiscriminate killing" of aid workers after four of his colleagues were killed in a strike.

Jose Andres paid tribute to World Central Kitchen personnel who died after serving with him in disasters and conflicts in Ukraine, Turkey and Morocco.

Four staff, an Australian and others said to be British and Polish, and a local driver died when the vehicle they were in was hit by an air strike as they drove along a coastal road near Deira Al Balah, reports said.

Israel said it was investigating the incident.

Mr Andres said he has “served alongside” the people killed in other parts of the world and called them “angels”.

World Central Kitchen is an international aid organisation that focuses on serving food to people who need it most, and has recently started operations to address famine-like conditions in Gaza.

Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed Lalzawmi Frankcom, an Australian citizen, was killed in the strike.

“This is completely unacceptable. Australia expects full accountability for the deaths of aid workers,” he said. “We want full accountability for this, because this is a tragedy that should never have occurred.”

He also paid tribute to Ms Frankcom, saying she had been carrying out “extraordinarily valuable work” in Gaza.

Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman at the White House, backed Mr Albanese's call for protecting aid workers.

"We are heartbroken and deeply troubled by the strike that killed World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza," she wrote on social media site X.

She demanded a swift investigation into the incident by Israel.

"Humanitarian aid workers must be protected as they deliver aid that is desperately needed."

The UN and international agencies have warned that more than a million people in Gaza are facing “catastrophic hunger” and famine is “imminent” especially in northern Gaza.

“This is a tragedy,” WCK said in a statement posted on X.

“Humanitarian aid workers and civilians should NEVER be a target. EVER.”

Mr Andres also called on the Israeli government to end military operations and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.

“The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing,” he said.

“It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon.”

The Israeli military issued a statement saying it was starting an investigation into the incident.

“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,” it said.

Updated: April 03, 2024, 8:44 AM