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World Central Kitchen Team In Gaza Should 'Never Have Been Attacked' As Their Cars 'Clearly Marked': WHO Chief

03.04.2024 17:57

Hungry people will go unfed because World Central Kitchen has 'quite understandably' paused its operations in Gaza, says Tedros.

The World Health Organization's (WHO) director-general on Wednesday stressed that members of the US-based charity World Central Kitchen (WCK) in Gaza should "never have been" targeted by Israel as their cars were "clearly marked."

"WHO is horrified by the killing of seven humanitarian workers from World Central Kitchen in Gaza on Monday.

"The work they were doing was saving lives, providing food to thousands of starving people," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press briefing in Geneva.

"Their cars were clearly marked and should never have been attacked," Tedros said.

Noting that delivering humanitarian aid in Gaza is "already difficult and dangerous," he lamented that hungry people will go unfed because WCK has "quite understandably" paused its operations.

This "horrific incident" highlights the need for an "effective and transparent mechanism for deconfliction must be put in place to ensure humanitarian convoys can move safely," he said.

He added: "We need more entry points, including in northern Gaza, cleared roads, and predictable and expedited passage through checkpoints."

On Tuesday, the charity confirmed that seven of its humanitarian aid workers were killed in Monday's Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip.

"The WCK team was traveling in a deconflicted zone in two armored cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle," it said in a statement.

Despite coordinating movements with the Israeli army, the charity added, the convoy was hit as it was leaving the group's warehouse in the southern city of Deir al-Balah, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on a maritime route.

"This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable," said CEO Erin Gore.

The seven charity workers killed were nationals of Australia, Poland, the UK, and Palestine, as well as a US-Canada dual citizen.

Need to expedite medical evacuations

Tedros warned that the number of medical evacuations needed in Gaza will increase as the Al-Shifa Hospital is "gone" and if those evacuations are not expedited "many lives" will be lost.

"So that's why at least the process for the evacuation has to be expedited, and people who need medical evacuation should be supported elsewhere," he said.

He also welcomed last week's UN Security Council resolution demanding a cease-fire and called for its immediate implementation.

Earlier on Monday, Israel announced that it had withdrawn from the Gaza Strip's largest health complex, Al-Shifa Hospital, and its surroundings after its two-week-long raids there which had begun on March 18.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by Hamas which killed around 1,200 people.

Close to 33,000 Palestinians have since been killed and 75,577 injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities. Israel has imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which last week asked it to do more to prevent famine in Gaza. -

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