4 World Central Kitchen workers, Palestinian driver killed in apparent Israeli airstrike, Gaza medical officials say

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DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (KABC) — An apparent Israeli airstrike killed four international aid workers with the World Central Kitchen charity and their Palestinian driver late Monday, hours after the group brought in a new shipload of food by a maritime route the United States has hoped would be an alternative lifeline for northern Gaza.

Footage showed the bodies of the five dead at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah. Several of them wore protective gear with the charity’s logo. Staff showed the passports of three of the dead – British, Australian and Polish. The nationality of the fourth aid worker was not immediately known.

The charity posted several photos hours before, saying “WCK teams mobilize across Gaza daily to distribute food to displaced Palestinians.”

The Israeli military said it was conducting a review “to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident.”

World Central Kitchen, the charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, said it was aware of the reports, saying “This is a tragedy. Humanitarian aid workers and civilians should NEVER be a target. EVER.”

A statement from Andrés posted on X read, “I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family. These are people…angels…I served alongside in Ukraine, Gaza, Turkey, Morocco, Bahamas, Indonesia. They are not faceless…they are not nameless. The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing. It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon. No more innocent lives lost. Peace starts with our shared humanity. It needs to start now.”

Mahmoud Thabet, a Palestinian Red Crescent paramedic who was on the team that brought the bodies to the hospital, told The Associated Press the workers were in a three-car convoy that was crossing out of northern Gaza when an Israeli missile hit. Thabet said he was told by WCK staff the team had been in the north coordinating distribution of the newly arrived aid and were heading back to Rafah in the south.

The source of fire could not be independently confirmed.

Three aid ships from Cyprus arrived earlier Monday carrying some 400 tons of food and supplies organized by the charity and the United Arab Emirates – the group’s second shipment after a pilot run last month. The Israeli military was involved in coordinating both deliveries.

The U.S. has touted the sea route as a new way to deliver desperately needed aid to northern Gaza, where the U.N. has said much of the population is on the brink of starvation, largely cut off from the rest of the territory by Israeli forces.

Israel has barred UNRWA, the main U.N. agency in Gaza, from making deliveries to the north, and other aid groups say sending truck convoys north has been too dangerous because of the military’s failure to ensure safe passage.

The strike came hours after Israeli troops ended a two-week raid on Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest, leaving the facility largely gutted and a swath of destruction in the surrounding neighborhoods. Footage showed Shifa’s main buildings had been reduced to burned-out husks.

Israel said it launched the raid on Shifa because senior Hamas operatives had regrouped there and were planning attacks. The military said its troops killed 200 militants in the operation, though the claim that they were all militants could not be confirmed, and Palestinians coming to the site after the troops withdrew found bodies of civilians.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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