World Central Kitchen to resume operations in Gaza

World Central Kitchen said Sunday it will resume operations in Gaza with a local team of Palestinian aid workers, nearly a month after the Israeli army killed seven of the organization's workers in targeted drone strikes on their convoy.

Israeli military officials said the attack was a “serious mistake” and cited a series of failures, including communication breakdowns and violations of military operating procedures.

The Washington-based aid group said it was still calling for an independent international investigation into the April 1 attack and that it had received “no concrete assurance” that the Israeli military's operating procedures had changed. But the “humanitarian situation in Gaza remains dire,” the humanitarian group's director of operations, Erin Gore, said in a statement.

“We are restarting our business with the same energy, dignity and focus on feeding as many people as possible,” he said.

The aid group said it had distributed more than 43 million meals in Gaza so far and had trucks carrying the equivalent of nearly eight million meals waiting to enter the enclave through the Rafah crossing in the south. World Central Kitchen said it also plans to send trucks to Gaza via Jordan and that it will open a kitchen in Al-Mawasi, a small seaside village that the Israeli army has designated a “humanitarian zone” safe for civilians, although attacks have occurred there. continuous.

Six of the seven workers killed on April 1 were from Western nations: three British, one Australian, one Polish and one a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. The seventh was Palestinian. They were killed in consecutive Israeli drone strikes on their vehicles as they traveled to Rafah after unloading food aid that arrived by sea.

The attack prompted World Central Kitchen to immediately suspend its operations in Gaza and sparked outrage from some of Israel's closest allies.

The World Central Kitchen convoy's movements had been coordinated in advance with the Israeli army, but some officers had not reviewed coordination documentation detailing which cars were part of the convoy, the military said.

According to the United Nations, around 200 aid workers, most of them Palestinians, were killed in Gaza between October 7 and the attack on the World Central Kitchen convoy. A visual investigation by the New York Times showed that, well before the attack on World Central Kitchen, six aid groups in Gaza had come under Israeli fire despite sharing their locations with the Israeli military.

The episode forced World Central Kitchen to decide whether to end its efforts in Gaza or continue, “knowing that aid workers, aid workers and civilians are being intimidated and killed,” Ms. Gore said in the statement.

“Ultimately, we decided we needed to keep feeding ourselves, continuing our mission of being there to provide food to people in the most difficult times,” he said.

At a memorial service in Washington for World Central Kitchen workers on Thursday, the group's founder, celebrity chef José Andrés, said there were “many unanswered questions about what happened and why” and that the aid group was still calling for an independent investigation. in the actions of the Israeli army.

The seven aid workers “risked everything to feed people they didn't know and will never meet,” Andrés said. “They were the best of humanity.”

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