World Central Kitchen demands independent investigation into Israeli strike on aid workers

NGO founder said convoy was targeted 'car by car'

A document belonging to aid worker Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, who was among those killed in the Israeli attacks on Monday. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest on Israel-Gaza

World Central Kitchen (WCK) has called for an independent investigation into Israeli strikes that killed seven of its staff in central Gaza, halting much-needed food aid to Palestinians facing imminent famine.

A Palestinian and six foreign citizens were killed in the series of strikes on Monday, which hit a convoy of mostly armoured cars shortly after it had delivered humanitarian aid to a warehouse in Deir Al Balah.

In a statement on Thursday, the organisation recounted details of the strikes, hours after its founder Jose Andres said the attack was deliberate and targeted the three vehicles "car by car".

"This was a military attack that involved multiple strikes and targeted three WCK vehicles," chief executive Erin Gore and executive co-chairman Javier Garcia said. "All three vehicles were carrying civilians, they were marked as WCK vehicles and their movements were in full compliance with Israeli authorities, who were aware of their itinerary, route and humanitarian mission."

It called on the US, Canada, Australia, Poland and the UK, all of which lost citizens in the attack, to join in demanding an independent, third-party investigation into the attacks to determine whether they were intentional or breached international law.

"An independent investigation is the only way to determine the truth of what happened, ensure transparency and accountability for those responsible, and prevent future attacks on humanitarian aid workers," the statement said.

Israel has admitted it struck the convoy, with army chief Herzi Halevi saying the aid workers were "misidentified".

It said it would launch an "independent" investigation into the strikes using the Fact-Finding Assessment Mechanism.

According to the Israeli army's website, the FFAM is headed by an army major general.

Medics who arrived at the scene of the attacks told The National they found canned food, books and brochures for the organisation inside the vehicles.

"It is obvious the Israeli occupation is targeting any relief [to] Gaza [that] could help people," Hassan Al Shorbaji, a Palestinian civilian who was among the first to arrive at the scene of the strike, said on Wednesday.

Israel has previously investigated killings in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, but Palestinian militant groups are often blamed, with Israel's role in the incidents played down.

Numerous foreign governments have called for Israel to be held accountable for the deaths of the WCK staff, who had set up a number of field kitchens across Gaza.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said Israel's claims over what happened "are not enough".

“We need to have accountability for how it has occurred and what is not good enough is the statements that have been made, including that this is just a product of war,” he said.

“This is against humanitarian law – international humanitarian law makes it very clear that aid workers should be able to provide that aid and that assistance free of the threat of losing their life.”

A total of 203 aid workers have been killed in Gaza since the war began in October, according to the Aid Worker Security Database – 176 were employees of UNRWA, the UN's relief agency for Palestine refugees, which Israel has tried to shut down after claiming some of its staff participated in the Hamas-led attacks on southern Israel on October 7.

Updated: April 04, 2024, 7:48 AM