Chef José Andrés 'Heartbroken' Over World Central Kitchen Aid Workers Killed in Gaza

The chef said he was "grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family" after humanitarian aid workers were killed

<p>Shannon Finney/Getty</p> José Andrés

Shannon Finney/Getty

José Andrés

José Andrés is “heartbroken and grieving” after members of the World Central Kitchen team were killed in an Israel Defense Forces attack early Tuesday morning.

“Today @WCKitchen lost several of our sisters and brothers in an IDF air strike in Gaza,” Andrés, who founded the not-for-profit non-governmental organization in 2010, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “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,” the chef, 54, continued. “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.”

<p>Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu via Getty</p> World Central Kitchen volunteers in Rafah, Gaza on Feb. 21, 2024

Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu via Getty

World Central Kitchen volunteers in Rafah, Gaza on Feb. 21, 2024

World Central Kitchen said it was “aware of reports” that members of its team were killed “while working to support our humanitarian food delivery efforts in Gaza.”

“This is a tragedy,” the organization continued in a statement on X. “Humanitarian aid workers and civilians should NEVER be a target. EVER.”

The organization later confirmed seven members of its team were killed in the IDF strike. The seven people killed were from Australia, Poland, the U.K. and Palestine. One person was a dual citizen of U.S. and Canada, WCK said.

"Despite coordinating movements with the IDF, the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route," the organization said.

“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,” World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore said in a statement.

WCK said it was "pausing" operations immediately in Gaza.

<p>Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu via Getty</p> World Central Kitchen volunteers in Rafa, Gaza on Feb. 21, 2024

Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu via Getty

World Central Kitchen volunteers in Rafa, Gaza on Feb. 21, 2024

An NBC News crew reported seeing the bodies of people wearing clothing with the World Central Kitchen logo being taken to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah. Two wore flak jackets with the logo, while a third wore a WCK T-shirt, the outlet reports. The NBC News crew reported seeing three of those killed with passports identifying them as citizens of the U.K., Australia and Poland.

A spokesperson for the Gaza Government Media Office, which is operated by Hamas, said at least four foreign aid workers and one Palestinian were killed in an Israeli air strike, reports NBC News.

Related: ABC War Correspondent Forced to Evacuate from War-Torn Area in Israel During Live Broadcast on The View

The Israeli military said it was “conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident,” reports the New York Times and ABC News.

The IDF “makes extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, and has been working closely with W.C.K. in their vital efforts to provide food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza,” the military’s statement continued.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack "tragic" and said an independent inquiry would take place.

"Unfortunately in the past day, there was a tragic event in which our forces unintentionally harmed non-combatants in the Gaza Strip," Netanyahu, 74, said in a video statement, per Al Jazeera. "This happens in war. We are conducting a thorough inquiry and are in contact with the governments. We will do everything to prevent a recurrence."

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia also said the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was investigating reports that an Australian was among those killed.

“I’m very concerned about the loss of life that is occurring in Gaza,” Albanese said, reports the Times. “My government has supported a sustainable cease-fire, we’ve called for the release of hostages, and there have been far too many innocent lives — Palestinian and Israeli — lost during the Gaza-Hamas conflict.”

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