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World Central Kitchen Suspends Gaza Operations

Global food relief organization World Central Kitchen (WCK) has suspended operations in Gaza after the Israeli air force killed 7 of its volunteers in a targeted attack earlier this week. But relief supplies are still being staged from Cyprus…

Bombed WCK Car - © 2024 - BBC

Cyprus-based aid workers say another 800 tons of food relief supplies are being prepared for shipment to Gaza. In spite of the temporary halt in WCK cooking and distribution operations in the embattled region. Some 500 tons have already been landed. And the US Navy is preparing to build floating docks off the Gazan cost to facilitate offloading of aid supplies.

Global condemnation

Nations and humanitarian organizations around the world have condemned the attack on the WCK convoy as an outrageous act. Even US president Joe Biden has stated publicly that, even if it was a mistake, it was unacceptable. The US President talked to WCK founder and chief José Andrés following the attack, saying he was, “outraged and heartbroken,” by the incident.

“Even more tragically, this is not a stand-alone incident,” Biden added. “This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed. […] This is a major reason why distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza has been so difficult – because Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians.”

Not exactly the slap-down the world wanted to see from Biden. But a clear expression of US disapproval.

New details emerge

“World Central Kitchen said it had coordinated with the Israeli military over the movement of its cars,” the Associated Press reported. “Three vehicles moving at large distances apart were hit in succession. They were left incinerated and mangled, indicating multiple targeted strikes.

“At least one of the vehicles had the charity’s logo printed across its roof to make it identifiable from the air, and the ordnance punched a large hole through the roof. Footage showed the bodies at a hospital in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah, several of them wearing protective gear with the charity’s logo.”

Israeli officials claim their air force ‘misidentified’ the WCK convoy as a Hamas formation. In spite of the clear WCK markings. Critics are skeptical of that claim.

Ships turned back

Ships carrying 240 tons of new food aid turned back toward Cyprus just a day after arriving in Gaza, before they had a chance to unload. Unconfirmed reports indicate they thought it was too dangerous to stay. But food stores are apparently still coming into Cyprus, and being organized for future shipment to Gaza.

The sea route is the only way relief supplies can get into Gaza, now. Israel last week withdrew permission for food-relief truck convoys to enter the region by land routes.

My take

Israel is scrambling to justify – or excuse – the attack on the WCK convoy, but the world isn’t buying the official explanations. Nor should it.

The air strike that killed 7 WCK relief workers is just the latest in a series of deliberate attacks that targeted civilian homes and businesses in Gaza since the war against Hamas began last year.

More than 32,900 Palestinians have been killed – some two-thirds of them women and children – according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

The world is waiting to see what substantive action the US takes against Israel kin response to the WCK convoy attack. Countries who lost citizens in the attack – including Canada, Australia, Poland and the UK – have demanded answers from Israel. So far substantive answers have not been forthcoming.

Meanwhile, all of Gaza’s 2.3 million citizens have been declared to be in a food crisis by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Food Program (WFP).

~ Maggie J.

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