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World Central Kitchen calls for independent investigation into IDF strikes

The World Central Kitchen charity (WCK) has said it is calling for an “independent investigation into the IDF strikes that killed seven members” of its team in Gaza on Monday.

British victims John Chapman, 57, James “Jim” Henderson, 33, and James Kirby, 47, were among the seven who died in the attack.

WCK’s chief executive officer Erin Gore and executive co-chairman/treasurer Javier Garcia said in a joint statement: “On April 1, 2024, the Israeli Defence Forces killed seven humanitarian aid workers employed by World Central Kitchen (WCK), an internationally recognised humanitarian organization.

Israel-Hamas conflict
(from left) Britons John Chapman, James ‘Jim’ Henderson and James Kirby, three of the seven World Central Kitchen aid workers who were killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza (World Central Kitchen/PA)

“The aid workers killed were nationals of Australia, Canada/US (dual citizen), Gaza, Poland, and the United Kingdom. Israel has admitted to the killings but called it a ‘a tragic event in which our forces unintentionally harmed non-combatants and something that ‘happens in war’.

“This was a military attack that involved multiple strikes and targeted three WCK vehicles. All three vehicles were carrying civilians; they were marked as WCK vehicles; and their movements were in full compliance with Israeli authorities, who were aware of their itinerary, route, and humanitarian mission.”

The statement asked the governments of Australia, Canada, the United States of America, Poland, and the United Kingdom to join them in a third-party investigation into the attacks and “whether they were carried out intentionally or otherwise violated international law”.

The charity said it has asked the Israeli government to immediately keep all documents, communications, video and audio recordings relevant to the strikes.

“An independent investigation is the only way to determine the truth of what happened, ensure transparency and accountability for those responsible, and prevent future attacks on humanitarian aid workers,” the statement added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the attack as unintended and “tragic” and pledged an independent inquiry.

It comes after WCK founder Jose Andres said on Wednesday that the Israeli military was aware of the convoy’s movements.

He told Reuters: “This was not just a bad luck situation where ‘oops’ we dropped the bomb in the wrong place.

“This was over 1.5km, 1.8km, with a very defined humanitarian convoy that had signs in the top, in the roof, a very colourful logo that we are obviously very proud of.

“It’s very clear who we are and what we do.”

Meanwhile, there is growing pressure on the UK Government to suspend arms sales to Israel, with a letter that has been signed by more than 600 lawyers, including former Supreme Court justices, published on Wednesday night.

The letter said the Government risks breaching international law by continuing to allow the export of weapons to Israel.

Signatories, including former Supreme Court president Lady Hale, said the worsening situation in Gaza and the International Court of Justice’s conclusion that there is a “plausible risk of genocide” obliges the UK to suspend arms sales to the country.