Gaza Attack: Foreign Aid Workers Corpse To Return Home

Amidst a chorus of outrage directed at Israel, Wednesday was designated for the repatriation of the bodies of six foreign aid workers, who perished in a Gaza airstrike, out of the conflict-stricken Palestinian enclave through Egypt.

On Monday, an Israeli airstrike led to the deaths of seven individuals affiliated with the US-based food charity World Central Kitchen, prompting condemnation from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who described the attack as “unconscionable” and attributed it to the conduct of the war.

According to Marwan Al-Hams, director of Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital in Gaza, preparations were underway for the repatriation of the bodies of the six international staff, who perished alongside one Palestinian colleague, via the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

Herzi Halevi, the head of Israel’s armed forces, described the incident as a “serious error,” attributing it to “misidentification” during nighttime operations. In a video statement, he apologized for the unintended harm inflicted on the members of WCK.

Previously, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had assured that the “tragic incident” would be thoroughly investigated until its conclusion.

The seven deaths piled more pressure on Israel, whose war since the Hamas attack of October 7 has brought devastation and mass civilian casualties to Gaza, where the UN warns the population of 2.4 million is on the brink of famine.

US President Joe Biden charged that Israel “has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians” and called for a “swift” investigation into what he said was not a “stand-alone incident”.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he had voiced his “anger and concern” in a phone call with Netanyahu, while Britain summoned the Israeli ambassador and demanded “full accountability”.

Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk wrote on X to Netanyahu and Israel’s ambassador, saying “the tragic attack against volunteers and your reaction are generating an understandable anger.”

The charity said it was mourning the loss of its seven “heroes” and “beautiful souls”. It said they had been killed in a “targeted attack” that was launched despite the group having coordinated its movements with the Israeli forces.

It named those killed as Palestinian Saifeddine Issam Ayad Abutaha, 25; Australian Lalzawmi (Zomi) Frankcom, 43; Brits John Chapman, 57, James (Jim) Henderson, 33, and James Kirby, 47; Pole Damian Sobol, 35; and US-Canadian Jacob Flickinger, 33.

Read also: Outraged Biden Rebukes Israel Over Deaths Of Gaza Aid Workers

After their deaths, the charity suspended operations and a ship that had carried food aid from Cyprus to Gaza turned back to the Mediterranean island with around 240 tonnes of supplies that had not been unloaded.

The deadliest Gaza conflict ever recorded began with Hamas’s October 7 assault, leading to around 1,160 fatalities in Israel, most of whom were civilians, according to an AFP calculation using Israeli official figures.

The health ministry in Gaza, which operates under Hamas authority, reveals that Israel’s retaliatory actions have led to the deaths of at least 32,916 individuals, with women and children bearing the brunt of the casualties. Overnight, Israeli airstrikes claimed the lives of at least 60 more people, according to the ministry’s announcement.

The army declared that its units had “eliminated and detained several extremists” during engagements and an aerial attack close to Al-Amal Hospital in the southern city of Khan Yunis. Furthermore, they acknowledged the uncovering of numerous weapons within the vicinity.

On October 7, Palestinian rebels seized about 250 hostages. Israel estimates that approximately 130 individuals remain in Gaza, including 34 who are believed to have perished. The families of the hostages have mobilized for four consecutive nights of extensive demonstrations, alongside a growing anti-government resurgence.

Thousands congregated in front of the parliament on Tuesday, where former Prime Minister Ehud Barak held Netanyahu responsible for the October 7 “debacle,” pushing for new elections. In parallel, Palestinians have reignited their pursuit for full membership status at the United Nations.

In correspondence reviewed by Newsmen, Palestinian UN representative Riyad Mansour urged Secretary-General Guterres, “upon instructions of the Palestinian leadership,” to revisit an application from 2011, in a letter directed to the Security Council this month.

Africa Today News, New York

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