J Street Horrified by World Central Kitchen Deaths, Calls for Urgent Changes

April 2, 2024

J Street is utterly horrified by the deaths of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, including an American citizen, after their clearly marked convoy was struck by Israeli forces in Gaza. We are deeply distressed by reports that their location and route were known and approved by the IDF, and yet they were hit by multiple missile strikes as they called for help and sought to rescue injured colleagues. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.

Our community shares profound admiration and respect for the work of José Andrés and World Central Kitchen. The work of humanitarian groups and agencies in Gaza is nothing short of heroic, and is essential to alleviate the catastrophic level of suffering. They must be protected.

We regret to note this is not an isolated incident. Almost 200 aid workers have been killed in Gaza since the horrific attacks of October 7. It is entirely understandable that World Central Kitchen would take the difficult decision to pause operations, and that countries such as the UAE are pausing their engagement in light of risk and danger.

With famine beginning to spread in Gaza, there is an urgent need for the Israeli government to facilitate and coordinate the delivery of massively increased levels of humanitarian aid, rather than impede and obstruct it. This is a moral, legal and strategic imperative – and a requirement under US laws attached to recipients of military aid.

J Street fully supports the Israeli government’s decision to open an investigation into this incident, which must be full and thorough. The US should consider – along with international partners – calling for an outside independent investigation of this and other incidents that have put aid workers at risk. We repeat our calls for Israeli forces to immediately review and reform tactics and deconfliction protocols to better protect civilians, aid workers, hostages and Israel’s own soldiers on the battlefield.

We also reiterate our call on the Biden Administration to ensure it is undertaking a thorough review of the assurances provided by the Netanyahu government that it is complying with US and international law and sufficiently facilitating humanitarian aid.

Members of Israel’s security establishment have called for the Israeli government to significantly “revamp” its approach to humanitarian aid: “Stop quarreling with friends and others over every delivery of assistance, significantly expand aid quantity, its transportation, and the number of dedicated crossings, while ensuring safe distribution to the two million non-combatants.” Read Commanders for Israel’s Security’s full letter here.