AFP2 April 2024 | 3:50

Several aid workers killed in Israeli strike on Gaza

World Central Kitchen, a US-headquartered organisation, called the incident a ‘tragedy’ and reiterated that ‘humanitarian aid workers and civilians should never be a target’.

Several aid workers killed in Israeli strike on Gaza

Israel and Palestinian flags. Picture: 123Rf

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES - An Israeli strike killed several people delivering food aid to the besieged Gaza Strip on Monday, their organisation said, with the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory reporting that four of them were foreigners.

"Today, World Central Kitchen lost several of its sisters and brothers in an Israeli army strike in Gaza," said the NGO's founder, chef Jose Andres.

World Central Kitchen, a US-headquartered organisation, called the incident a "tragedy" and reiterated that "humanitarian aid workers and civilians should never be a target".

According to the health ministry in Gaza, the bodies of four foreign aid workers and their Palestinian driver were brought to a hospital in the town of Deir el-Balah after an Israeli strike targeted their vehicle.

Hamas said the aid workers included "British, Australian and Polish nationalities, with the fourth nationality not known".

World Central Kitchen is one of two NGOs spearheading efforts to deliver aid by boat from Cyprus. It is also involved in the construction of a temporary jetty in Gaza.

At the Al-Aqsa Hospital, an AFP correspondent saw five bodies with three foreign passports lying nearby.

The Israeli military said it was "conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident" adding that it had been "working closely with WCK" in the effort to provide aid to Palestinians.

Israel has come under immense international pressure to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into the blockaded strip after six months of war and stark warnings from the United Nations about the dire levels of hunger stalking all 2.4 million Gazans.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was seeking to confirm reports that an Australian aid worker had died.

"These reports are very distressing," its spokesperson said. "We have been clear on the need for civilian lives to be protected in this conflict."

A UN-backed report warned on 19 March that half of Gazans are feeling "catastrophic" hunger and projected imminent famine in the territory's north.


Since Hamas's 7 October attack triggered the war, Gaza has been under a near-complete blockade, with the United Nations accusing Israel of preventing deliveries of humanitarian aid.

The world's top court has ordered Israel to "ensure urgent humanitarian assistance" in Gaza without delay, saying "famine is setting in".

Foreign powers have ramped up aid airdrops, although UN agencies and charities warn this falls far short of the dire need and say trucks are the most efficient way of delivering aid.

The bloodiest-ever Gaza war erupted with Hamas's unprecedented 7 October attack which resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory campaign, aimed at destroying Hamas, has killed at least 32,845 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.


On Monday, Israeli army pulled out of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City after an intensive, two-week military operation against Hamas transformed the territory's largest medical complex into charred ruins.

"There are more terrorists in the hospital than patients or medical staff," Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari said, adding that 900 people had been apprehended at the sprawling hospital complex, with over 500 of them "definitely" militants.

A spokesman for Gaza's civil defence agency said Israeli forces had killed about 300 people in and around the hospital during the two-week operation.

"People trapped in Al-Shifa hospital died of hunger. Some drank water from bathroom drains," Palestinian Anwar el Jondi said.

Medics surveying the damage after the troops withdrew pulled patients and bodies from the charred buildings on stretchers between mounds of rubble.

Several doctors and civilians at the damaged complex told AFP that at least 20 bodies had been found, some of which appeared to have been driven over by military vehicles.

An AFP correspondent saw one badly decomposed body bearing tyre marks, although it was not known when it was driven over.


The Israeli military said Monday that 600 soldiers had been killed since the start of the war -- including 256 in the Gaza ground invasion since late October.

During their attack on Israel, Palestinian militants also seized around 250 hostages. Israel believes about 130 remain in Gaza, including 34 who are presumed dead.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Netanyahu is under rising pressure from the families of hostages as well as anti-government protesters, whose nightly rallies have drawn thousands onto the streets.

On Monday, Netanyahu vowed to ban broadcasts from Israel by Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera, after the Israeli Parliament granted him new powers. He called it a "terrorist channel".

The broadcaster said the Israeli PM's comments were a "dangerous ludicrous lie".

The war in Gaza has raised fears of a wider regional conflagration, with repeated violence linked to the conflict in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

Those fears intensified on Monday with strikes in Damascus on the consular annex of Israel's arch-foe Iran, according to Damascus and Tehran.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards confirmed two high-ranking generals were among 11 people reported dead.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor based in Britain, said 11 people were killed.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said seven members were killed, including two senior officers, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi and Brigadier General Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi.

Israel did not comment, but Iran vowed a "decisive response" to the attack and called on the international community to act.

Hamas called the attack a "dangerous escalation".

Zahedi, who according to Iranian state TV was part of the Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations arm, the Quds Force, is one of several high-profile figures targeted by Israel during the Gaza war.