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Chef Jose Andres says Israel targeted his aid workers ‘systematically, car by car’

Chef Jose Andres says Israel targeted his aid workers ‘systematically, car by car’
epaselect epa11255114 A destroyed car of the NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) sits along Al Rashid road, between Deir Al Balah and Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, 02 April 2024. NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) confirmed in a statement on 02 April that seven of its members were killed in an Israeli strike, when a missile hit their convoy in Deir al Balah while they were on their way from Rafah to Gaza City to receive fresh aid delivered by the Open Arms vessel. The victims were confirmed to be from Australia, Poland, United Kingdom, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, and Palestine. The World Central Kitchen announced it has suspended its activities in the region. EPA-EFE/MOHAMMED SABER

WASHINGTON, April 3 (Reuters) - Celebrity chef Jose Andres told Reuters in an emotional interview on Wednesday that an Israeli attack that killed seven of his food aid workers in Gaza had targeted them "systematically, car by car."

By Jeff Mason

Speaking via video, Andres said the World Central Kitchen (WCK) charity group he founded had clear communication with the Israeli military, which he said knew his aid workers’ movements.

“This was not just a bad luck situation where ‘oops’ we dropped the bomb in the wrong place,” Andres said.

This was over a 1.5, 1.8 kilometers, with a very defined humanitarian convoy that had signs in the top, in the roof, a very colorful logo that we are obviously very proud of,” he said. It’s “very clear who we are and what we do.”

Andres said the IDF was aware of the convoy’s whereabouts. He called for investigations of the incident by the U.S. government and by the home country of every aid worker that was killed.

“They were targeting us in a deconflicting zone, in an area controlled by IDF. They knowing that it was our teams moving on that road … with three cars,” he said.

The aid workers were killed when their convoy was hit shortly after they oversaw the unloading of 100 tons of food brought to Gaza by sea. Israel’s military expressed “severe sorrow” over the incident and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it unintentional.

Andres said there may have been more than three strikes against the aid convoy. He rejected Israeli and U.S. assertions that the strike was not deliberate.

“Initially, I would say categorically no,” Andres said when asked if he accepted that explanation.

“Even if we were not in coordination with the (Israel Defense Forces), no democratic country and no military can be targeting civilians and humanitarians,” he added.

Asked for comment on Andres’ remarks, an Israeli military spokesperson referred to prior comments by chief of staff Herzi Halevi in which he called the incident a grave mistake and said the attack “was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers.”

Andres said he was personally supposed to be there with his team but was not able to go back to Gaza at the time.

The U.S. needs to do more to stop the war, he said. Andres spoke to President Joe Biden on Tuesday.

“The U.S. must do more to tell Prime Minister Netanyahu this war needs to end now,” he said. He questioned Biden administration moves to supply aid in Gaza while also arming Israel.

“It’s very complicated to understand … America is going to be sending its Navy and its military to do humanitarian work, but at the same time weapons provided by America … are killing civilians,” he said.

The chef also wondered aloud how Netanyahu could wage a war to save Israeli hostages “when they may be dying under the rubble of the same weapons” Israel used against Palestinians.

 

CAR BY CAR

Andres said his organization was still studying the safety situation in Gaza as it contemplates starting aid deliveries again.

Australian, British and American citizens were among seven World Central Kitchen aid workers killed as it was leaving its Deir al-Balah warehouse.

At least 196 humanitarian workers have been killed in Gaza since October, according to the United Nations, and Hamas has previously accused Israel of targeting aid distribution sites.

Andres described how he learned of the attack, saying first his group lost contact with its team in Gaza, and did not realize what happened until seeing images of the bodies.

He said that after the IDF attacked the first armored car, the team was able to escape and move to a second car which was then attacked, forcing them to move to the third car.

The aid workers tried to communicate to make clear who they were, he said, adding IDF knew they were in the area which it controlled.

Then the third car was hit, “and we saw the consequences of that.”

World Central Kitchen began last month moving food aid to starving people in northern Gaza via a maritime corridor from Cyprus, in collaboration with Spanish charity Open Arms. The charity coordinated closely with Israel’s military, Arab nations and others, Andres said earlier.

Biden said he was “outraged and heartbroken” by the deaths. The U.S. sided with Netanyahu’s assertion that the strikes were not deliberate.

Founded by Andres, 54, in 2010 after a Haiti earthquake, World Central Kitchen has tried to sidestep red tape around the world to rush aid to disaster-hit areas, including Ukraine after the Russian invasion. 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. More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Andres condemned the war as a whole.

“This it seems is a war against humanity itself. And you can never win that war. Because humanity eventually will always prevail,” he said.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; additional reporting by Nandita Bose and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Heather Timmons, Rami Ayyub and David Gregorio)

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Inyour Name says:

    Where are the thumbsuckers now? Another mistake, what an incompetent IDF. They keep on killing civilians by mistake, oh wait, no, there are no civilians.

  • Philip Machanick says:

    What is disturbing about this incident is not that the IDF has targeted civilians, in this case, aid workers, but that it takes an incident where 7 citizens of the US, UK and Australia are killed before there is outrage.

    Gift of the Givers head in Gaza, Ahmed Abbasi, was killed in November 2023.

    There are numerous reports that aid organisations have never seen such a high level of carnage and destruction in such a short time. There is no reasonable doubt that Israel is using famine as a weapon and is deliberately targeting civilians.

    Yet, only now is there outrage.

    There is plenty of evidence that the Israeli government is a fascist regime intent on ethnic cleansing, long before Oct 7, including vicious anti-Palestinian pogroms on the West Bank. Yet only Hamas is called out for terrorism.

    The only possible explanation for turning a blind eye to all these crimes against humanity is racism.

    • Mary Reynolds Reynolds says:

      There’s been loud public outrage for months. But, yes, it may take the deaths of US and British nationals to make their governments wake up and act.

  • Penny Philip says:

    Israel has always claimed to have one of the world’s most advanced/ efficient armies. The clearly marked WCK vehicles were driving down a recognised ‘aid corridor’ & they had advised the IDF of their vehicles’ movements. This is not an ‘ooops….we made a mistake’ moment. Having also watched footage (BBC verified) of 2 separate individual citizens in Gaza being shot by an IDF armoured vehicle (even though they unarmed & waving white flags), & their bodies being dumped in a hole on a beach by an IDF bulldozer, makes this look more & more like ethnic cleansing & the use of an old Israeli tactic of terrifying Palestinian people enough to make them leave Gaza. The US military is now assisting with aid deliveries in Gaza, while their government is still supplying arms to the IDF!

    • tom cobley says:

      Hamas terrorists holed up in hospitals and other civilian areas should withdraw and allow gaza to heal.
      The Israelis will not stop until they are gone.
      And free the hostages

      • Enver Klein says:

        It would help if Israel released the thousands of hostages they have; that was Hamas intent from the beginning, swop of hostages for hostages.
        No Hamas members were found in the recent demolition of Al-Shifa where only patients and medical staff were murdered.

      • Enver Klein says:

        The Israelis will not stop until there are no more Palestinians, irrespective if hostages are released or not or if there are no members of Hamas left or not. It’s very easy to find the map of the greater Israel, Netanyahu presented that in September 2023 and it has been presented by others.

  • Enver Klein says:

    Deliberate and intentional, terrorising Aid Workers is part of the plan…

  • mjl1mjl says:

    It is crystal clear that Israel is embarked on ethnically clearing Palestine of all Palestinian peoples, a clear case of genocide and land grab. Some nations watch, knowingly and patiently waiting for the eventual outcome, others are actively involved, either supplying bombs and so called intelligence to the Israelis, being complicit in genocide.

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