World Central Kitchen boss José Andrés accuses Israel of “direct attack” on Gaza aid convoy

Tel Aviv — Chef José Andrés says the team at his charity World Central Kitchen in the Gaza Strip appears to have been deliberately targeted by the Israeli military with deadly airstrikes that killed seven staff members on Monday. including a young American father. The Israel Defense Forces and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have called the airstrikes, which hit three WCK vehicles in succession, the kind of mistake that happens in war, but that explanation has been increasingly rejected as insufficient and even misleading by Andrés and at least one of the slain aid worker’s countries of origin.

“It wasn’t just a bad luck situation where, ‘Oops, we dropped a bomb in the wrong place,'” Andrés told the Reuters news agency, emphasizing that his team’s vehicles were clearly marked and ” it’s very clear who and what we are.” We do.”

“They were targeting us in a non-conflict zone, in an area controlled by the IDF. They, knowing that it was our teams who were traveling on this road… with three cars,” he said, adding that he believed that seven aid workers killed by strike in Gaza were targeted “systematically, car by car”.

World-Central-Kitchen-WCK-Aid Workers
Palestinians stand next to a vehicle in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on April 2, 2024, where employees of World Central Kitchen (WCK) were killed in an Israeli airstrike .

YASSER QUDIHE/Middle East Images/AFP/Getty

“I don’t think the airstrikes against our convoy were an unfortunate mistake,” he told Israel’s Channel 12 in a separate interview. “This was in reality a direct attack on clearly identified vehicles whose movements were known to everyone within the IDF.”

“I went to Gaza,” said the famous Spanish-American chef, devastated. “Some of the people who died were my friends and I served with them.”

The Israeli military called the attack on the three-car convoy a case of mistaken identification, but WCK said it coordinated its movements in Gaza with the Israeli military.

Andrés said his team even tried to call the military while they were under fire – some moving from the first car after it was hit to a second vehicle, which was then also hit, then to the third, ultimately leaving the seven aid workers dead.

Nir Barkat, Israel’s Economy Minister, called Andrés’ comments “nonsense” in an interview with CBS News partner network BBC News on Thursday, insisting that they were a “grave error” and for which, he said, Israel was “terribly sorry”. ”

Barkat reiterated that “unfortunately, in wars, friendly fire happens.”

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Speaking in Sydney on Thursday after an Australian woman was named as one of the victims of the strikes, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called for full transparency from Israel and rejected the suggestion that such Incidents were inevitable in a conflict.

“We need to be accountable for how this happened, and what is not enough are the statements that have been made, including that this is just a product of war,” said Albanese. “They are committed to a full and proper investigation. I want this to be transparent and I want these findings made public so we can find out exactly how this can happen.”

In Washington, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller was asked Wednesday whether Israel should be held responsible for the death of American WCK worker Jacob Flickinger during the strikes.


Miller said the Biden administration wants to see Israel conduct “a full, prompt, transparent investigation” and then, “if that investigation shows that accountability is appropriate, then of course there should be accountability.” And we will wait to see the results of this investigation.” investigation before making a judgment. »

“We want this to be closed as quickly as possible and for them to put measures in place to prevent this from happening again in the future,” Miller added. “They need to put in place better deconfliction and better coordination to protect aid workers and all civilians on the ground, and that is something we have consistently told them over the past few months.”

CBS News geolocated the wreckage of the three WCK cars hundreds of yards apart, and although retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Wes Bryant said “it seems “It was probably a case of misidentification,” he blamed the mistake on “careless insensitivity.” by the Israeli army.

“At least one vehicle was clearly marked, and the other two were clearly part of their convoy, so not knowing this critical information is pure negligence,” Bryant told CBS News. “That’s when there would have been one of the checks to say, ‘Hey, wait, it’s a yellow flag or a red flag here.'”

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11:59 a.m.

The bodies of the six foreign members of the team were flown out of Gaza on Wednesday, including that of Flickinger. The 33-year-old dual American-Canadian national leaves behind a baby. The other WCK personnel killed were Palestinian, British, Polish and Australian nationals.

Meanwhile, the deadly strike on the humanitarian convoy is already affecting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza who are struggling not only with war, but also with hunger, as it is not only World Central Kitchen that has suspended its operations in Gaza. Anera, another American non-profit organization that worked in the enclave, also announced that it was suspending its activities there.

President Biden was scheduled to have his first phone call with Netanyahu since the deadly strikes on the WCK convoy later Thursday. Mr. Biden said he was “outraged and heartbroken” by the attack.


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