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Gaza: What we know about the Israeli attack that killed aid workers

Seven aid workers, including three Britons, have been killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza that has been described as “unforgivable”.

According to a World Food Program chief, the incident “wiped out the response team of a major aid organization” that is helping feed half a million people in Gaza.

Sky News’ data and forensics department is investigating what we know about the events so far.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has acknowledged that Israeli forces carried out the attack and said officials would do “everything possible to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.”

The team from the World Central Kitchen (WCK) charity was traveling in three vehicles in a “conflict-free zone,” according to the group, adding that its movement was coordinated with the Israeli army.

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

The route

In follow-up images and videos, three damaged vehicles were seen along Gaza’s Al-Rashid coastal road in three different locations for a total distance of 2.4 km (1.5 miles).

According to a World Food Program member who spoke to Sky News, the strike was estimated to have been carried out between 10.30pm and 11pm local time on Monday. The first reports on social media appeared at 10:52 p.m.

According to the charity, two of the three vehicles were armored.

Burnt out car

The northernmost car was geolocated on the side of the Al Rashid coastal road, southwest of the city. There are paper materials with the WCK logo on the back of the burned out car, as seen in photos published by Getty.

While it is clear that the vehicles pictured were carrying WCK personnel, it could also be that branding material was displayed after the strike. Footage filmed by the Associated Press (AP) below shows the damaged vehicle.

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

Car roof punctured

Photos and recordings of a second vehicle, with the WCK logo clearly visible on the roof, show that it is approximately 810 m further southwest along the road.

Image: Reuters
Picture:
Image: Reuters

Like the previous car, it faces southwest. This car’s roof was punctured on the right passenger side and the interior is visibly damaged, as seen in the AP footage below. The windows on this vehicle appear to be intact.

Commenting on the images showing the second vehicle with the punctured roof, a spokesman for Janes, a defense intelligence company, told Sky News the entry point suggested it was a “relatively small precision-guided munition”.

They said: “We cannot officially identify a weapon from these images and have not seen any other images of identifiable fragments.”

“However, the relative lack of damage – the windows appear to be intact, there is no obvious deformation beyond the immediate roof panel – suggests, apart from the entry point, that this was a relatively small, precision-guided munition that was either a had very low explosive power, low … “collateral warhead or an inert payload whose effect is based on kinetic energy.”

Damaged car

Pictures and videos show a third car with similar damage to the first vehicle. Geolocated footage shows a white, burned-out vehicle in a field another 1.6 km (one mile) southwest along the same road.

A high-visibility vest with a WCK logo can be seen in the back seat, as seen in the AP footage below.

Given the significant damage to the body of this car compared to the other two, it is likely that this is the unarmored vehicle described by WCK. Based on the visual evidence currently available, we were unable to determine which of the cars the victims were in.

Aftermath shows that the victims’ bodies were taken to Al-Aqsa Hospital in northeast Deir Al Balah.

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Netanyahu: “This is what happens in war”

Operations team “wiped out”

Matthew Hollingworth, World Food Program (WFP) country director for Palestine, said the team was “on the way back to its base” in Rafah.

He said WFP and WCK were not direct partners but worked “very closely together every day” to coordinate where food aid should be delivered.

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

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

“We cannot afford to stop deliveries.”

The organization provided food to half a million people in Gaza through centers like this field kitchen in eastern Deir al Balah.

Strike was “unforgivable”

WCK Executive Director Erin Gore said the strike was “unforgivable” and “not just an attack on WCK, it is an attack on humanitarian organizations that find themselves in the worst situations where food is used as a weapon of war.”

The group ceased operations after its workers were killed.

Those killed included 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 USA, Great Britain, Poland and Australia demanded that Israel investigate or provide an explanation into the deaths of the aid workers.

In response, Anera, a Washington-based aid group that has worked in the Palestinian territories for decades, said it was taking the “unprecedented” step of halting its own operations in Gaza, where it has helped provide around 150,000 meals a day .

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman, said officials had “reviewed the incident at the highest level” and that an independent investigation would be launched.

Additional reporting by Ben van der Merwe, forensics journalist, Adam Parker, OSINT editor, and Natasha Muktarsingh, deputy editor, data and forensics.


The Data and forensics The team is a diverse unit dedicated to delivering transparent journalism from Sky News. We collect, analyze and visualize data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting capabilities with advanced analysis of satellite imagery, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling we want to better explain the world and at the same time show how we do journalism.

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