Israel Gaza: Aid workers killed in strike, food charity says

  • By Emily Atkinson & Rushdie Abuluf
  • BBC News

image caption,

The bodies were taken to a hospital in Gaza

Aid workers, including an Australian, and two people believed to be British and Polish have been killed in Gaza in what their charity founder said was an Israeli attack.

World Central Kitchen (WCK) founder and chef José Andrés said his staff were killed in an “IDF airstrike.”

Gaza's Hamas-run media office also blamed Israel. The alleged strike has not been independently verified.

Israel's military said it was conducting a “thorough review”.

A journalist working for the BBC in Gaza has found the bodies of three international aid workers and a Palestinian driver rescued from the site of an alleged airstrike. Foreign passports were also shown.

The group is said to have been involved in coordinating the arrival of another boat carrying food supplies to central Gaza.

Adrian Watson, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, told X: “We are heartbroken and deeply troubled by the deadly strike. [WCK] Aid workers in Gaza.

“Humanitarian aid workers must be protected as they provide much-needed assistance, and we urge Israel to quickly investigate what happened.”

A medical source at Al-Aqsa Hospital in the central Gaza Strip told the BBC that the bodies of four workers and their Palestinian driver were brought to the hospital after the car they were traveling in was hit by an airstrike on the coastal road. At Deir al-Bala.

More details about the alleged attack are still emerging.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed that aid worker Lalsawmi “Jomie” Frankham was among the dead and offered his condolences to family and friends.

In a statement, he said: “Someone who volunteered to help abroad through this charity to people who are suffering great loss in Gaza. This is completely unacceptable.”

He said Australia expected “full accountability” and said it was a “tragedy that should never have happened”.

image caption,

World Central Kitchen logo was seen

A Palestinian medical source told the BBC the workers were wearing bulletproof vests emblazoned with the WCK logo. The charity is currently feeding thousands of people in Gaza.

In a statement, WCK said it was “aware of reports” that members of its group were “killed in the IDF”. [Israel Defense Forces] Attack while working to support our humanitarian food distribution efforts in Gaza.

“This is a tragedy. Humanitarian aid workers and civilians should never be targeted. We will share more information after gathering all the facts,” it added.

In a post on X, Mr Andres, a celebrity chef, called on the Israeli government to “stop this indiscriminate killing”.

Commenting on the reports, the IDF said it was conducting a thorough review at the highest level to understand the circumstances of this “tragic incident”.

“The IDF is making extensive efforts to deliver humanitarian aid safely, and is working closely with the WCK in their vital efforts to deliver food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza,” it added.

Before confirming that an Australian citizen had been killed in the incident, the Australian Foreign Ministry said: “We are very clear that we expect humanitarian workers in Gaza to have safe and unimpeded access to carry out their life-saving work”.

The UK Foreign Office and the Polish Foreign Ministry have been contacted for comment.

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