What Do We Know About Israel's Bombing Of The World Central Kitchen Convoy In Gaza?

Israel has drawn widespread global condemnation for its bombing of an aid convoy belonging to the non-profit World Central Kitchen. Seven members of the WCK team, most of them foreign nationals, perished in the bombing, in what analysts claim was a series of deliberate, targeted strikes from an Israeli drone.

What Do We Know About Israel's Bombing Of The World Central Kitchen Convoy In Gaza?

Seven workers from aid group World Central Kitchen were killed after the Israeli military bombed their convoy in central Gaza’s Deir el-Balah neighborhood. The attack involved three drone strikes on the aid convoy, which was returning after delivering food to a warehouse in Gaza used by the non-profit.

World Central Kitchen is an American aid group that provides fresh meals in disaster and conflict stricken areas. WCK was started by Michelin starred chef Jose Andres and his partner Patricia Fernandez de la Cruz in 2010.

In response to the bombing, WCK has announced that it will suspend operations in Gaza, which the UN has claimed is already on the verge of famine.

The seven WCK team members killed in the attack were Jacob Flickinger, 33, an American-Canadian, John Chapman, 57, a British citizen, James Henderson, 33, also a British citizen, James Kirby, 47, also British, Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, 25, a Palestinian, Lalzawmi Frankcom, 43, an Australian and Damian Sobol, 35, who hailed from Poland.

In a press release on their website, WCK confirmed that “seven members of our team have been killed in an IDF strike in Gaza. The WCK team was traveling in a deconflicted zone in two armored cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle. 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 non-profit also claimed that “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.”

WCK founder Jose Andres has said that he is “heartbroken” over the attack, and has urged Israel to stop its campaign of “indiscriminate killing.” He added that Israel “needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has confirmed Israeli responsibility for the attack, claiming that “these things happen in wartime, we check it to the end, we are in contact with the governments, and we will do everything so that this thing does not happen again.”

Israel has systematically restricted the entry of aid into Gaza since it began its offensive, and Israeli military forces have repeatedly opened fire on civilians waiting in line for food and other essential aid. A report by Refugees International claims that Israel has deliberately engineered “famine-like conditions” in the Gaza strip, while simultaneously “obstructing and undermining the humanitarian response.”

Did the Israeli military make a ‘mistake’?

An investigation by Al Jazeera has found that the Israeli military “deliberately targeted” the World Central Kitchen convoy “with three consecutive attacks.”

The investigation by the Al Jazeera Sanad verification agency concluded that once the first armored vehicle was hit by a drone strike, the injured aid workers climbed into another armored vehicle, which the drone struck with another missile. The third vehicle in the convoy, which was an unarmored vehicle, was then hit by a third missile from the drone.

CNN has also claimed that the attacks appear “to have consisted of multiple precision strikes.”

UNICEF spokesperson James Elder has also claimed that Israel had the exact coordinates of the convoy as WCK coordinated their movement with Israeli forces

What is World Central Kitchen?

Celebrity chef Jose Andres and his wife started WCK after they visited Haiti, after the nation had been struck by the 2010 earthquake that killed nearly a quarter million people. Andres worked with local gastronomy professionals and chefs to distribute freshly cooked meals, and set up local kitchens for displaced people who were forced to live in camps after their homes were destroyed.

After its work in Haiti, the NGO expanded its operations to Latin America and Europe, and claims to have distributed over 350 million meals to people struck by natural disasters and in conflict zones.

WCK has served meals to the refugees fleeing from Ukraine after the Russian invasion began in 2022, to victims of Hurricanes Harvey in the US, and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and to displaced people from the wildfires in Chile and the 2024 earthquake in Japan. Other places where the charity has delivered meals include Nicaragua, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Zambia, Uganda and Cambodia.

The charity is entirely donation funded, and reported nearly $500 million in charitable contributions in 2022.

What work has World Central Kitchen done in Gaza?

WCK teams have been cooking meals for people displaced by the Israeli bombing campaign in Rafah in South Gaza, along the Israel-Lebanon border, and says that it has served over 32 million meals.

World Central Kitchen’s work has also been critical to opening up the maritime food aid route from Cyprus, when it sourced over 200 tons of wheat flour and food aid, which was later shipped by Spanish non-profit Open Arms from Cyprus to Gaza.

How has the world responded?

World leaders expressed their discontent at Israel’s deliberate killing of the World Central Kitchen workers. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the attack "unconscionable" and that it was "an inevitable result of the way the war is being conducted." US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged Israel to “investigate the killing” of the WCK workers in Gaza. The European Union’s humanitarian affairs commissioner has condemned the attack and claimed that “This must stop. Now!” in a post on X. 

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has claimed that he has expressed his “anger and concern” with Netanyahu over the phone, citing accountability for the killing of Australian national Lalzawmi Frankcom.

The attack on the World Central Kitchen convoy follows on the heels of Israeli warplanes bombing Iran’s consulate in Syria on April 1, Monday, in a strike that Iran has claimed killed seven military advisors, including three senior military commanders, and Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander Mohammed Reza Zahedi. Iran has vowed to retaliate, in an intense escalation of regional tensions over the war in Gaza.  

Hamza Hashim serves as an Assistant Editor for The Friday Times, and is an educator. He is an alumnus of Swarthmore College.