Following Israeli Strike on WCK Workers, Concerns of Chilling Effect on Aid Organizations in Gaza

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Israel is taking full accountability for a strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) humanitarian aid workers a few days ago. The attack faced sharp criticism across the world, including in Washington. The strike could influence US policy toward Israel and have a chilling effect on other aid organizations in Gaza.  

The images of the mangled and destroyed WCK cars in Gaza prompted international outrage. The Israeli military struck the aid convoy a few days ago. The attack killed seven humanitarian workers, which included one Canadian-American. The attack prompted a call between President Joe Biden and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on protecting aid workers and mitigating civilian deaths in Gaza.  

“He [Biden] made clear that US policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps,” said John Kirby, National Security Council spokesperson.  

Officials did not describe that phone call as an ultimatum on US aid to Israel and did not go into detail as to what changes in US policy would be made if Israel did not show changes to their operations.  

“There are too many civilians and a risk to aid workers that is unacceptable and now we have certain aid organizations that are reconsidering whether they will be able to continue operations in Gaza while famine looms,” said Kirby. “So there has to be tangible steps.” 

On Friday, Israel’s military fired two top military officers and released a report following the attack. The report said in part: “those who approved the strike were convinced they were targeting armed Hamas operatives and not WCK employees.” The report also said it was contrary to the standard operating procedures.  

“The strike was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers,” said LTG Herzi Halevi, Israel Defense Forces Chief of the General Staff. “It was a mistake following a misidentification.”  

Before the report was released, the WCK said they coordinated their movements with Israel’s military. They’ve since suspended their operations. The WCK was a vital lifeline to Palestinians who are facing famine. The US is concerned the attack could have a chilling effect on other groups carrying out aid to Gaza.