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Jose Andres describes Israel strikes that killed aid workers in Gaza

World Central Kitchen founder Chef Jose Andres participates in an online Reuters interview from Eastern Shore, Maryland

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chef Jose Andres, founder of the World Central Kitchen aid agency, described in a Reuters interview on Wednesday the devastating attack in Gaza this week in which strikes by the Israeli military killed seven of his group's workers.

The air strikes, which the Israeli government said were unintentional, took place in an area that was overseen by the Israeli military, Andres said.

This is his account:

“The team was coming from dropping in a warehouse… south of Gaza all the food they were able to download before it got too dark," Andres told Reuters. The seven were in the what he described as "kind of a secure area" that he referred to as a deconflicting area, traveling in a convoy of three cars - two that were armored cars, one that was not.

Andres said World Central Kitchen first found out something was wrong when they could no longer reach the seven on the ground.

"Somehow we kind of lost communication," he said. "Then we began [to get] information that something went wrong, that something happened. And that is when I found out our team” were targeted.

Andres did not mention being contacted by any official source. Instead, it became “very obvious when we began seeing images of these bodies and these passports in the hospital, it was confirmed these were our people.”

The seven killed included an Australian, British citizens and an American. Photos of the attack, the mangled World Central Kitchen-marked vehicles and the people killed circulated quickly online.

"They were targeted systematically car by car," Andres said. He said he believed there were more than three strikes carried out by drones.

"They attacked the first car...We have a feeling they were able to escape safely because this was an armored vehicle," he said. The people in the first car "were able to move in the second one. Again, this one was hit. They were able to move in the third one."

They were trying to make calls during the chaotic moments, Andres said, to ask the Israeli Defense Forces "'What are they doing? They are targeting us.’” The area was controlled by the Israeli military, he said. They knew "it was our team moving on that road with three cars." And then they hit the third one, he said “and we saw the consequences of that.”

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Heather Timmons and David Gregorio)