Israel bombed World Central Kitchen aid convoy travelling on ‘pre-approved route’ 3 times: report

Published April 3, 2024
A Palestinian man rides a bicycle past a damaged vehicle where employees from the World Central Kitchen (WCK), including foreigners, were killed in an Israeli airstrike, in Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza, Strip on April 2. — Reuters
A Palestinian man rides a bicycle past a damaged vehicle where employees from the World Central Kitchen (WCK), including foreigners, were killed in an Israeli airstrike, in Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza, Strip on April 2. — Reuters

An Israeli strike which killed seven people working for the aid charity World Central Kitchen (WCK) in Gaza on Monday night targeted the convoy travelling on a “pre-approved route” three times, according to a report by Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The strike on the WCK convoy killed citizens of Australia, Britain and Poland as well as Palestinians and a dual citizen of the United States and Canada.

WCK, which was founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres, said they had been travelling in two armoured cars emblazoned with the charity’s logo and another vehicle.

Despite coordinating movements with the Israeli military, the convoy was hit as it was leaving its Deir al-Balah warehouse after unloading more than 100 tonnes of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza by sea, WCK said.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the airstrike in Gaza was unintended and “tragic” as the military pledged an independent inquiry.

“Unfortunately in the past day there was a tragic event in which our forces unintentionally harmed non-combatants in the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said in a video statement.

“This happens in war. We are conducting a thorough inquiry and are in contact with the governments. We will do everything to prevent a recurrence,” he said.

Australia, Britain and Poland — countries which have generally been friendly towards Israel — all demanded action to protect aid workers, underscoring Netanyahu’s increasing diplomatic isolation over Gaza.

In a report carried on Tuesday, Haaretz — citing defence sources familiar with the details — said an Israeli drone fired three missiles “one after the other” at the aid convoy.

“According to the defence sources, the cars were clearly marked on the roof and sides as belonging to the organisation, but the war room of the unit responsible for security of the route that the convoy travelled identified an armed man on the truck and suspected that he was a terrorist,” the publication said.

It said that after a few minutes, the three cars left the warehouse without the truck on which there was ostensibly an armed man. “According to the defence sources, that armed man did not leave the warehouse. The cars travelled along a route pre-approved and coordinated with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF),” it said.

The report said that when the convoy was travelling on the approved route, the war room of the unit responsible for the security of the path ordered drone operators to attack one of the cars with a missile.

“Some of the passengers were seen leaving the car after it was hit and switching to one of the other two cars. They continued to drive and even notified the people responsible that they were attacked, but, seconds later, another missile hit their car,” the report said.

It said that when the third car in the convoy approached, the passengers began to transfer the wounded who had survived the second strike, but then a third missile struck, killing all seven aid workers.

“It’s frustrating,” Haaretz quoted one of the defence sources as saying. “We’re trying our hardest to accurately hit terrorists, and utilising every thread of intelligence, and in the end the units in the field decide to launch attacks without any preparation, in cases that have nothing to do with protecting our forces,” the source added.

Israel has been under rising international pressure to alleviate severe hunger in Gaza, which has been shattered by Israel’s offensive against Hamas that has killed more than 32,000 Palestinians.

The conflict began after Hamas attacks on southern Israel on Oct 7 that killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli figures. Since then, much of the densely populated territory has been laid waste and most of its 2.3 million population displaced.

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