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Gaza: What we know about Israeli strike which killed aid workers | World News

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An Israeli airstrike in Gaza described as “unforgivable” has killed seven aid workers, including three Britons.

The incident “wiped out the operations team” of a major aid organisation, which is helping to feed half a million people in Gaza, according to a boss of the World Food Programme.

Sky News’ Data and Forensics Unit looks at what we know so far.

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has acknowledged that Israeli forces carried out the strike and said officials “will do everything for this not to happen again”.

The team from the charity World Central Kitchen (WCK) were travelling in a “deconflicted zone” with three vehicles, according to the group, adding its movement had been coordinated with the Israeli army.

The charity said the convoy was leaving its warehouse in Deir al Balah in central Gaza where it had brought more than 100 tonnes of humanitarian food aid from its pier, recently built near Gaza City.

The route

Three damaged vehicles have been seen in aftermath pictures and videos along the al Rashid coastal road in Gaza at three different locations across a total distance of 2.4km (1.5 miles).

The attacks were estimated to have been carried out between 10.30pm and 11.00pm local time on Monday, according to a World Food Programme member who spoke to Sky News, with first reports on social media at 10.52pm.

The charity says two of the three vehicles were armoured.

Burned-out car

The car furthest north was geolocated to the side of the al Rashid coastal road to the southwest of the city. The back of the burned-out car contains paper materials marked with WCK’s branding, as seen in photographs published by Getty.

Some materials have likely been placed at the scene. Footage below filmed by the Associated Press (AP), shows the damaged vehicle.

In the images reviewed by Sky News, this vehicle is facing southwest, likely indicating its direction of travel at the time of impact.

Car roof punctured

Photographs and footage of a second vehicle, with the WCK’s logo clearly visible on its roof, place it around 810m further southwest along the road.

Pic: Reuters
Image:
Pic: Reuters

As with the previous car, it is facing southwest. The roof of this car has been punctured on the passenger side on the right and the interior is visibly damaged as seen in AP footage below. The windows on this vehicle appear intact.

Commenting on visuals showing the second vehicle with the punctured roof, a spokesperson for Janes, a defence intelligence firm, told Sky News the entry point suggests it was a “relatively small precision-guided munition”.

They said: “We cannot formally identify any weapon from these pictures and have seen no other images of identifiable fragments.

“However, the relative lack of damage – windows appear intact, there is no apparent buckling beyond the immediate roof panel – aside from the entry point suggests that it was a relatively small, precision-guided munition with either a very small yield, low-collateral warhead or an inert payload relying on kinetic energy for its effect.”

Damaged car

A third car is seen in images and video with similar damage to the first vehicle. Geolocated footage shows a white burned-out vehicle in a field a further 1.6km (one mile) southwest along the same road.

A high-visibility vest with WCK branding is visible in its back seat, as seen in AP footage below.

Given the extensive damage to the body of this car compared to the other two, it’s likely that it’s the unarmoured vehicle described by WCK. From the current visual evidence available, we have not been able to determine which of the cars the victims were in.

Aftermath footage shows that the bodies of victims were taken to the al Aqsa Hospital in the northeast of Deir Al Balah.

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Netanyahu: ‘This happens in war’

Operations team ‘wiped out’

Matthew Hollingworth, the World Food Programme (WFP) country director, Palestine, says the team were “on the way back to their base” in Rafah.

He said the WFP and WCK are not direct partners but work “very closely together every day” to coordinate where to deliver food aid.

He said: “The operations team for the World Central Kitchen has just been wiped out. These are the team I would meet with day in, day out and my colleagues would… It’s going to be extraordinarily difficult for the WCK to come back from this. I’m sure they will but these are all critical staff members.”

He added that due to the situation in Gaza “none of us can afford to stop”.

“We can’t afford to stop delivering.”

The organisation was providing food to half a million people in Gaza through centres like this field kitchen in the east of Deir al Balah.

Strike was ‘unforgivable’

The WCK chief executive Erin Gore said the strike was “unforgivable” and was “not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organisations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war”.

The group suspended operations after its workers were killed.

Those killed include three British nationals, an Australian, a Polish national, an American-Canadian dual citizen and a Palestinian, according to hospital records.

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The US, Britain, Poland and Australia called for an investigation or an explanation from Israel over the aid workers’ deaths.

In response, Anera, a Washington-based aid group that has been operating in the Palestinian territories for decades, said it was taking the “unprecedented” step of pausing its own operations in Gaza, where it had been helping to provide around 150,000 meals daily.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman, said officials have been “reviewing the incident at the highest levels” and that an independent investigation will be launched.

Additional reporting by Ben van der Merwe, forensics journalist, Adam Parker, OSINT editor, and Natasha Muktarsingh, assistant editor, Data and Forensics.


The Data and Forensics team is a multi-skilled unit dedicated to providing transparent journalism from Sky News. We gather, analyse and visualise data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite images, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling we aim to better explain the world while also showing how our journalism is done.

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