The international community was instantly outraged after seven food aid workers with the World Central Kitchen charity were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza earlier this month. But while the charity’s founder, José Andrés, continues to mourn the victims, the chef has expressed frustration that it took the death of foreign workers for much of the world to open its eyes to Israel’s military campaign that, six months in, has destroyed the enclave and ruined the lives of Palestinian civilians.

On April 1, Israeli forces launched at least three airstrikes that hit a World Central Kitchen convoy that was delivering food and supplies to starving Palestinians facing a hunger crisis since Israel is blocking access to bring aid into Gaza. The strikes on the three cars killed seven humanitarian workers with the organization, six of whom were foreigners from mostly Western nations and one of whom was Palestinian.

The attack instantly drew international outrage over Israel’s military offensive and the impact of its campaign on innocent lives in Gaza. The aid workers’ deaths have been widely covered in the media, and led world leaders like President Joe Biden ― Israel’s strongest ally ― to publicly threaten conditioning the U.S. government’s support should Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuse to open more aid routes and change military tactics to avoid further civilian and humanitarian casualties.

Israeli officials have described the several airstrikes as a “mistake,” a claim Andrés and his charity continue to fiercely oppose as they maintain that the WCK logo was clearly visible on the convoy’s roofs and that the group consistently informed the military of their movements. John Flickinger ― the father of one of the victims, 33-year-old U.S.-Canadian dual citizen James Flickinger ― told The Associated Press that he believes the strike “was a deliberate attempt to intimidate aid workers to stop the flow of humanitarian aid.”

“There’s way too many cases now of humanitarians dying ― many civilians, women, children that the only thing they did was trying to get close by, to somewhere that they were giving them flour or bread,” Andrés told Martha Raddatz on Sunday during ABC’s “This Week.”

“This is not anymore about the seven men and women of World Central Kitchen that perished on this unfortunate event. This is happening for way too long. It’s been six months of targeting anything that … moves,” he continued. “This doesn’t seem a war against terror. This doesn’t seem anymore a war about defending Israel. This really, at this point, seems it’s a war against humanity itself.”

Until the WCK attack, the Biden administration publicly pushed very little against Israel’s military offensive that within half a year has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, flattened most of the territory, displaced most of the population of 2.3 million and caused a starvation crisis. The offensive began after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 and taking about 250 hostage.

“In a way, I’m sad that it had to be the killing of six foreigners that brings all this outrage. Sometimes history is written, unfortunately, in moments like this,” Andrés said. “But if there’s anything that the lives of these six heroes, brave souls, can bring, it is the real understanding of what’s really happening in Gaza. The answer of why all the destruction cannot be because there’s a Hamas operative in every building.”

“We cannot be winning a war, destroying the lifehoods [sic] of 2 million people. This is not a way to create safety for Israel. This is not the way to create safety for the Middle East. This is not the way to create safety for a better tomorrow,” he continued. “I don’t believe in higher walls. I believe in longer tables. What is good for me must be good for you.”

In response to the global outrage, Israel said it would launch an investigation into the WCK attack. An initial report released Friday said that the military dismissed two officers and reprimanded three additional individuals for their roles. The military said that the officers had mishandled critical information and violated rules of engagement.

“I want to thank, obviously, the IDF for doing such a quick investigation,” Andrés said. “But at the same time, I will say something so complicated, the investigation should be much more deeper. And I would say that the perpetrator cannot be investigating himself.”

Pro-Palestinian activists have pointed out that the foreign aid workers’ deaths are devastating and deserving of outrage, however much of the world that stepped up to condemn Israel for its tactics ― including members of the U.S. government ― were quiet while the military killed tens of thousands of Palestinians.

“While the world is justifiably outraged at Israel’s targeted killing of Western humanitarian aid workers, there is silence when Palestinian men, women and children are slaughtered on a daily basis, with no accountability or investigations,” Nihad Awad, national executive director for Muslim civil rights group CAIR, said in a statement.

“Israel killed the Western aid workers in the same way that it has been killing Palestinian civilians. The world has rightfully demanded accountability and an independent investigation,” Awad continued. “Palestinian deaths deserve a similar response and pressure on Israel to stop the genocide.”

Immediately after news broke of the airstrikes on the WCK workers, the charity’s CEO released a blistering statement saying Israel’s attack was “unforgivable.”

“It is unforgivable,” Andrés echoed on Sunday. “I will have to live with this the rest of my life. We all will have to live with this the rest of our lives. I’ve seen firsthand what has been happening in Ukraine. Entire towns and cities being wiped out by [President Vladimir] Putin. But Prime Minister Netanyahu is doing this exactly the same.”

“The best future we can be providing for our children is when we provide for the children of the people we don’t know, the same future and the same hope we are trying to provide for our own,” he continued. “What is so difficult to understand about that?”


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