Israeli strike kills American & aid workers with US charity from all over the world, and other atrocities – Day 178

Israeli strike kills American & aid workers with US charity from all over the world, and other atrocities – Day 178

American citizen & 6 other aid workers with US nonprofit killed in Israeli attack; nothing left of Al Shifa Hospital but debris & horror stories; journalist, West Banker killed; Rafah; Biden mulls $18 billion weapons transfer to Israel; new Israeli law targets Al Jazeera for shut-down; Israel bombs Iranian Embassy in Syria, killing 7; Israeli land grab; Spain to recognize State of Palestine, more

By IAK staff, from reports

FOREIGN AID WORKERS ASSASSINATED – CNN reports that an American citizen and 6 other aid workers were killed in an Israeli military strike as they were delivering food to starving civilians in Gaza, according to non-profit group World Central Kitchen and authorities in the besieged enclave. World Central Kitchen is a US-based nonprofit that helps people around the world. (Israeli forces are enabled by massive US tax money that US politicians send to Israel.)

World Central Kitchen said its aid workers were traveling in a “deconflicted zone” in two armored cars branded with the charity’s logo as well as “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,” WCK said in a statement on its website.

“This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable,” said World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore.

The seven killed are from Australia, Poland, United Kingdom, a dual citizen of the US and Canada, and Palestine.

In a statement, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory Jamie McGoldrick said he was “extremely saddened and appalled” by Israel’s killing of the seven WCK personnel.

“This is not an isolated incident,” he added. “As of 20 March, at least 196 humanitarians had been killed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since October 2023. This is nearly three times the death toll recorded in any single conflict in a year.

”This attack comes at a time of severe hardship and suffering in Gaza,” he continued, and WCK “provides desperately needed food assistance in Gaza where recent analysis has shown a risk of famine is imminent for the 2.2 million people of Gaza.”

World Central Kitchen said it was pausing its operations following the deadly strike and assessing the future of its operations in Gaza.

“I am heartbroken and appalled that we – World Central Kitchen and the world – lost beautiful lives today because of a targeted attack by the IDF,” World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore said in the statement.

The Guardian reports that Lalzawmi Frankcom, an Australian aid worker among those killed by Israel, died “doing the work she loves”, her grieving family has said.

“We are deeply mourning the news that our brave and beloved Zomi has been killed doing the work she loves, delivering food to the people of Gaza,” her family said in a statement. “She will leave behind a legacy of compassion, bravery and love for all those in her orbit.”

The Melbourne-born 43-year-old “was a kind, selfless and outstanding human being [who] travelled the world helping others in their time of need”, her family said. She had worked with WCK since 2019.

In late March, Frankcom appeared in a video filmed at Deir al-Balah talking about the meals being prepared for Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has repeatedly targeted aid shipments to Gaza, in an apparent effort to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in the Strip and starve its population.

According to UN data, the daily average number of aid trucks entering Gaza dropped by more than a third in the weeks following provisional measures from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which ordered Israel to allow safe, unfettered humanitarian aid access.

The Israeli military has released a statement on the killing of the five aid workers:

“Following the reports regarding the World Central Kitchen personnel in Gaza today, the [Israeli army] is conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident.”

“The [Israeli army] makes extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, and has been working closely with WCK in their vital efforts to provide food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.”

More from Al Jazeera: A second maritime aid shipment involving three ships carrying some 400 tonnes of food is expected to arrive imminently.

The vessels are carrying supplies to prepare more than one million meals, including rice, pasta, flour and canned vegetables.

But WCK said it would pause its Gaza operations immediately. “We will be making decisions about the future of our work soon,” it said in a statement.

The strike is not the first incident in which World Central Kitchen staff were wounded in Gaza. On Saturday, an IDF sniper fired at a car headed to a food warehouse in the Khan Yunis area. He hit the car’s windshield, but the volunteer inside was unharmed.

Destroyed buildings surround Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital after the Israeli military withdrew from the complex on Monday
Destroyed buildings surround Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital after the Israeli military withdrew from the complex on Monday (photo)

OCHA DESCRIBES THE CUMBERSOME ISRAEL-IMPOSED PROCESS OF GETTING AID WHERE IT IS NEEDED – Famine is projected to occur in northern Gaza anytime between mid-March and May 2024, and 70 per cent of the population is projected to face catastrophic hunger between March and July 2024.

While there is faster access to northern Gaza from Ashdod port in Israel through Erez crossing (see OCHA map), the delivery of aid offloaded in Port Said, Egypt, to Gaza is lengthy and riddled with obstacles. It involves offloading, reloading, storage, and screening of aid supplies at multiple locations in Egypt and at Israeli crossing points leading to Gaza, resulting in significant delays and inefficiencies.

“Once inside Gaza, aid convoys have to travel on crowded, impassable roads, at risk of unexploded ordnance, often close to fighting and amid desperate hungry crowds. IDF soldiers too often delay or deny convoys from crossing checkpoints, with rejected requests for safe passage, searches, detentions and sometimes violence against aid convoys and awaiting crowds,” OCHA stated.

Additionally, since 1 March, 30 per cent of humanitarian aid missions to northern Gaza and 10 per cent of missions to southern Gaza were denied access by the Israeli authorities.

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid line up at the Rafah crossing near Gaza’s border with Egypt
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid line up at the Rafah crossing near Gaza’s border with Egypt, where thousands of tons of aid awaits Israel’s screening process, and then delivery to the starving people of Gaza. (photo)

On Al Shifa Hospital, after Israeli siege

HORRIFIC ACCOUNTS – After the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers from a two-week siege on Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, dozens of bodies, including women and children, have been found run over by Israeli tanks and buried in the vicinity of the hospital. (Short video here – TW.)

A harrowing firsthand report unveils the brutal actions of Israeli soldiers at Al-Shifa Hospital during their two-week siege. A woman recounts the distressing scenes of civilians being shot dead and buried alive. Many of the bodies were bulldozed and buried by Israeli forces, while others were handcuffed and blindfolded and buried alive in ditches.

One survivor describes how Israeli soldiers kidnapped his sons, his nephew and his son-in-law while they shot his other son-in-law dead.

Gaza’s media office said Israeli troops had killed some 400 Palestinians in and around the hospital. “They bulldozed the courtyards, burying dozens of bodies of martyrs in the rubble, turning the place into a mass graveyard,” the statement added.

A mother recounts how Israeli soldiers shot and killed her son Mohammad Muhannad Abd Al-Wahid in front of her eyes while they were trapped for five days inside Al-Shifa medical complex.


– Middle East Monitor reports: Some 138 journalists have been killed in Gaza since 7 October, 2023, the Government Media Office announced yesterday.

“The number of journalist martyrs increased after the martyrdom of journalist Mohammad Abu Sakhil during the crime of raiding the Al-Shifa Medical Hospital complex in Gaza,” the media office said.

Rabea Faisal Zakarna
Rabea Faisal Zakarna (photo)


– IMEMC reports: Palestinian medical sources have confirmed that a young man succumbed to serious wounds he suffered, last Saturday, when the Israeli army invaded Qabatia town, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and killed a child.

Fawwaz Hammad, the director of Ar-Razi Hospital in Jenin, confirmed the death of Rabea Faisal Zakarna, 20, from Qabatia.


– Reuters reports: Israeli officials agreed on Monday to take U.S. concerns about a planned offensive in Rafah into account, said a joint statement issued after a virtual meeting with U.S. officials on alternative ways to root out Hamas militants in southern Gaza.

The 2-1/2 hour meeting led by top U.S. and Israeli officials concluded with a plan for follow-up talks in person as early as next week, the statement said.

There was no immediate sign that the U.S. and Israeli negotiators reached any agreement on the path forward in Rafah.

The US has continued to offer overwhelming support for Israel, despite growing international condemnation of its actions in Gaza and Israel’s repeated dismissal of the US’s limited criticism.

Biden considering $18 billion weapons transfer to Israel

Weapons to Israel – CNN reports: , according to three people familiar with the matter.

The transaction, which would amount to the largest US foreign military sale to Israel since the country went to war with Hamas on October 7, comes as the administration is also expected to notify Congress soon of a large new sale of precision-guided munitions kits to Israel, the people said.

The new sales of some of the US’ most sophisticated weaponry underscore the extent to which the US continues to support Israel militarily, even as Biden administration officials criticize Israel’s operations in Gaza, which have killed more than 32,000 Palestinians since October, according to the Gaza ministry of health.

The sale is likely to be hotly debated in Congress, particularly by members of the president’s own party. US weapons sales to Israel have come under intense scrutiny in recent months and Democratic lawmakers have called for restricting military aid to Israeli until it allows more humanitarian aid into Gaza and does more to protect civilians there.

Reuters adds: Speeding delivery of the aircraft was among the top asks by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who visited Washington last week and held talks with U.S. officials including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, a source said.

Some analysts point out that such US support is deeply damaging to the US.

Netanyahu, centre, chairs a cabinet meeting at the Kirya, which houses the Israeli Ministry of Defense, in Tel Aviv
Netanyahu, center, chairs a cabinet meeting at the Kirya, which houses the Israeli Ministry of Defense, in Tel Aviv (photo)


Al Jazeera reports: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to “act immediately to stop” Al Jazeera’s operations in the country after the Israeli parliament approved a law that grants senior ministers powers to shut down foreign news networks deemed a security risk.

“Al Jazeera harmed Israel’s security, actively participated in the October 7 massacre, and incited against Israeli soldiers,” Netanyahu wrote on X on Monday.

“I intend to act immediately in accordance with the new law to stop the channel’s activity,” he said.

The Al Jazeera Media Network has released a statement on the situation:

In an escalating move, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched a frantic campaign against Al Jazeera, accusing it of harming Israel’s security, actively participating in the October 7 attack, and inciting against Israeli soldiers. Al Jazeera Media Network condemns these statements and sees [them] as nothing but dangerous ludicrous lies.

Netanyahu could not find any justifications to offer the world for his ongoing attacks on Al Jazeera and Press Freedom except to present new lies and inflammatory slanders against the Network and the rights of its employees.

Al Jazeera holds the Israeli prime minister responsible for the safety of its staff and Network premises around the world, following his incitement and this false accusation in a disgraceful manner.

The network stresses that this latest measure comes as part of a series of systematic Israeli attacks to silence Al Jazeera, including the assassination of its correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, the killing of its journalists Samer AbuDaqqa and Hamza AlDahdouh, the bombing of its office in Gaza, the deliberate targeting of a number of Al Jazeera journalists and their family members, and the arrest and intimidation of its correspondents in the field.

Al Jazeera reiterates that such slanderous accusations will not deter us from continuing our bold and professional coverage, and reserves the right to pursue every legal step.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has commented on the Israeli move to ban Al Jazeera, saying the law “pos[es] a significant threat to international media”.

CPJ is deeply concerned by new legislation authorizing the Netanyahu government to shutter Al-Jazeera in Israel,” said Carlos Martínez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “The law grants the government the power to close any foreign media outlets operating in Israel, posing a significant threat to international media within the country. This contributes to a climate of self-censorship and hostility toward the press, a trend that has escalated since the Israel-Gaza war began.”

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre commented, “We believe in the freedom of the press. It is critical. It is critically important, and the United States supports the critically important work of journalists around the world, and that includes those who are reporting in the conflict in Gaza,” Jean-Pierre told reporters, adding, “so we believe that work is important. The freedom of the press is important. And if those reports are true, it is concerning to us.

Smoke rises after what the Iranian media said was an Israeli strike on a building close to the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria April 1, 2024.
Smoke rises after what the Iranian media said was an Israeli strike on a building close to the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria April 1, 2024. (photo)


– CNN reports: Iran has vowed to retaliate after it accused Israel of bombing its embassy complex in Syria on Monday, in a deadly escalation of regional tensions over the war in Gaza that once again appeared to raise the risk of a wider Middle Eastern conflict.

The airstrike destroyed the consulate building in the capital Damascus, killing at least seven officials. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday blamed Israel for the attack and said it will “not go unanswered,” state news agency IRNA reported.

Teheran Times reports that the Iranian ambassador to Syria said: “This regime has no respect for international law. We will support the resistant nation [of Palestine] and have no fear of the criminality of this regime.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to have “lost sanity” due to his consecutive failures following the Al-Aqsa Storm Operation.

“The attack on the Iranian consulate building in Damascus was a violation of all international commitments and conventions.”

The Israeli military told CNN it does not comment on foreign reports. However, a military spokesperson said Israel believes the target struck was a “military building of Quds forces” — a unit of the IRGC responsible for foreign operations.

Bezalel Smotrich, Israeli far-right lawmaker and leader of the Religious Zionism party, speaks during a rally with supporters, Sderot, Israel, Oct. 26, 2022
Bezalel Smotrich, Israeli far-right lawmaker and leader of the Religious Zionism party, speaks during a rally with supporters, Sderot, Israel, Oct. 26, 2022 (photo)


– Times of Israel reports: Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has announced that the Civil Administration, an agency in the Defense Ministry, has declared 170 dunams (17 hectares or 42 acres) as “state land”, meaning it can be used for, among other purposes, settlement development.

Smotrich, who has authority over the Civil Administration, said he has been working on advancing similar declarations of state land in the occupied West Bank over the past year.

Last month, about 8,000 dunams (800 hectares or 1,976 acres) were declared state land in the Jordan Valley, the largest in decades, according to anti-settlement groups.

In February, 2,640 dunams (264 hectares or 650 acres) were declared state land east of Jerusalem.


– The New Arab reports: Spain will recognize Palestinian statehood by July, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told journalists during a Middle East tour, according to several reports published on Tuesday in Spanish media, adding that he believed there would soon be a “critical mass” within the European Union to push several member states to adopt the same position, according to state news agency EFE.

More news:

The Guardian: Israel lodges proposal with UN for dismantling of Palestinian relief agency
Palestine Chronicle: Broken Ribs – This is What Happens When International Aid is Dropped Over Gaza
IMEMC News Reports


Palestinian death toll from October 7 – April 1: at least 33,711* (33,247 in Gaza* (14,280 children, 9,340 women), and at least 464 in the West Bank (117 children). This does not include an estimated 7,000 more still buried under rubble (4,900 women and children). Euro-Med Monitor reports 40,042 Palestinian deaths.

At least 41 Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons (27 from Gaza, 14 from West Bank)

At least 31 Palestinians have died due to malnutrition**

About 1.7 million, or 75% of Gaza’s population are currently displaced.

About 2.2 million (out of total population of 2.3 million) are facing Crisis, Emergency, or Catastrophic levels of food insecurity.

Palestinian injuries from October 7 – April 1: at least 80,092 (including at least 75,092 in Gaza and 5,000 in the West Bank).

It remains unknown how many Americans are among the casualties in Gaza.

Reported Israeli death toll from October 7 – April 1: ~1,407 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, of which ~574 were civilians, 373 or 337 were security and/or military forces, ~32 were Americans, and ~36 were children); 255 military forces since the ground invasion began in Gaza;, 16 in the West Bank) and~8,730 injured.

NBC reports: “According to the latest available IDF data… nearly 1 in 5, or 17%, of all Israel’s losses have come not at the hands of Hamas but from mishaps on its own side.”

NOTE: It is unknown at this time how many of the deaths and injuries in Israel on October 7 were caused by Israeli soldiers.

*Previously, IAK did not include 471 Gazans killed in the Al Ahli hospital blast since the source of the projectile was being disputed. However, given that much evidence points to Israel as the culprit, Israel had previously bombed the hospital and has attacked many others, Israel is prohibiting outside experts from investigating the scene, and since the UN and other agencies are including the deaths from the attack in their cumulative totals, if Americans knew is now also doing so.

**Euro-Med Monitor reports that Gaza’s elderly are dying at an alarmingly high rate. The majority die at home and are buried either close to their residences or in makeshift graves dispersed across the Strip. There are currently more than 140 such cemeteries. Additionally, according to Euromed, thousands have died from starvation, malnourishment, and inadequate medical care; these are considered indirect victims as they were not registered in hospitals. 

Find previous daily casualty figures and daily news updates here.

For more news, go here and hereBroadcast news from the region is here.

Hover over each bar for exact numbers.

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