World Central Kitchen vehicle

A World Central Kitchen vehicle destroyed by an Israeli airstrike is pictured in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on April 2, 2024.

(Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images)

'Indictments Now,' Says UN Expert After Israel Massacres World Central Kitchen Workers

"Israel is crossing every possible red line, still with full impunity," said Francesca Albanese, the United Nations special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories.

The United Nations special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories demanded criminal consequences for Israeli officials on Tuesday after the country's forces attacked a World Central Kitchen convoy in the Gaza Strip, killing seven workers and sparking global outrage.

"Israel is crossing every possible red line, still with full impunity," Francesca Albanese wrote in a social media post, noting that the Israeli military's attack on the WCK convoy came on the same day that it bombed Iran's consulate in Syria.

"Sanctions now," Albanese wrote. "Indictments now."

The International Criminal Court, the global body tasked with trying individuals for war crimes, is currently investigating alleged Israeli crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Early accounts described the Israeli attack on the WCK convoy on Monday as a singular strike, but reporting and on-the-ground testimony have since made clear that Israeli forces launched three successive strikes on the vehicles.

WCK described the attack as "targeted," given that the convoy coordinated its movements with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the vehicles were clearly marked with the humanitarian aid group's logo. Photographs released in the wake of the attack show that an Israeli missile tore through the WCK logo on the roof of one of the targeted vehicles.

(Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

According toHaaretz, "an Israeli drone fired three missiles one after the other" at the convoy, reportedly believing that a suspected "terrorist" was traveling with the aid workers.

"At some point, when the convoy was driving along the approved route, the war room of the unit responsible for security of the route ordered the drone operators to attack one of the cars with a missile," the Israeli newspaper reported, citing unnamed IDF sources.

After the first car was hit, survivors attempted to flee and transfer the wounded into the other cars—at which point Israeli forces launched missiles at the two remaining vehicles.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the strikes "unintentionally" killed innocent WCK staffers, but the Haaretz reporting indicates the IDF knowingly launched several lethal attacks on the aid convoy.

"Netanyahu is killing journalists, doctors, and humanitarian workers indiscriminately (or maybe discriminately) and doing everything in his power to provoke a war with Iran, but Biden is just sending more fighter jets."

Rescue teams from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society recovered the seven bodies from the gruesome scene and transferred them to nearby hospitals. The victims included a Palestinian WCK worker and a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada as well as Australian, Polish, and British nationals who had just unloaded 100 tons of food aid.

Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, said in a statement that he was "extremely saddened and appalled by the Israeli army's multiple airstrikes" on the WCK convoy and emphasized that the attack was "not an isolated incident."

"As of 20 March, at least 196 humanitarians had been killed in the occupied Palestinian territory since October 2023. This is nearly three times the death toll recorded in any single conflict in a year," said McGoldrick. "All parties to the conflict, including the government of Israel, must respect international humanitarian law, which prohibits the targeting of humanitarian personnel. The role of aid workers is to alleviate the suffering of people in crisis. Their safety, along with that of the civilians they serve, must be guaranteed."

Israel's deadly attack forced WCK and other aid groups to pause their operations in Gaza at the worst possible moment, with famine spreading and taking lives across the territory. Israel's blockade has restricted the entry of food, medical supplies, and other necessities.

"We feel that it's very hard for us to continue," said Naser Qadous of the American Near East Refugee Aid, which partners with WCK. "The humanitarian assistance people need to be protected."

Qadous went on to warn that the aid disruptions caused by Israel's attack would have devastating consequences for ordinary Gazans.

"The starvation in Gaza will be unbelievable," he said.

Sky News reported Tuesday that cargo vessels bound for Gaza from Cyprus were turned around following the attack on the WCK convoy.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the aid workers killed by Israeli forces as "heroes" and said they "have to be protected."

Blinken said Biden administration officials have "spoken directly" with the Israeli government about the attack and urged a "thorough" and "impartial" investigation.

But Blinken did not do what many aid organizations and U.N. officials have urged the U.S. and other countries to do for months: cut off arms sales to Israel.

Hours before Monday's attack, CNNreported that the Biden administration is "close to approving the sale of as many as 50 American-made F-15 fighter jets to Israel, in a deal expected to be worth more than $18 billion."

"Netanyahu is killing journalists, doctors, and humanitarian workers indiscriminately (or maybe discriminately) and doing everything in his power to provoke a war with Iran, but Biden is just sending more fighter jets," Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, wrote in response to the CNN story.

"Madness," he added.

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