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Who’s to Blame for the Death of the WCK Aid Workers in Gaza?

April 11, 2024

by: Ilse Strauss

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The World Central Kitchen vehicle after the IDF strike

Thursday, 11 April 2024 | The tragic killing of seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers in an Israel Defense Forces [IDF] strike in the Gaza Strip on April 1 was a terrible disaster. It shouldn’t have happened. And we should mourn for seven people who were killed while selflessly alleviating suffering in a war-torn area.

Yet unfortunately, the death of innocent civilians—and of aid workers, journalists and others who come to the frontline to help the innocent civilians—is an all too common tragic reality during the madness and mayhem of war. And it’s hardly isolated to happening on the IDF’s watch.

It is important to highlight that Israel did own up to the grave blunder without delay. Within hours after the strike, the IDF also launched an in-depth investigation lead by the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Fact-Finding and Assessment Mechanism [FFAM]. Four days later, the findings were presented to the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, the WCK organization, international ambassadors and journalists.

Without sugarcoating the error or shirking responsibility, the IDF admitted that “the strike on the aid vehicles was a grave mistake stemming from a serious failure due to a mistaken identification, errors in decision-making, and an attack contrary to the Standard Operating Procedures.”

Following the identified of the responsible parties, Halevi also announced disciplinary action, with two senior officers dismissed and three other senior officers reprimanded.

The swift investigation and the equally swift disciplinary steps against top commanders highlight just how seriously the IDF takes such incidents and stand as a testament to the Israeli government’s commitment to own up to failure.

But how could something like this happen in the first place? Sadly, easier than one would like to believe. According to the IDF, the misidentification occurred after forces believed they spotted one and then another Hamas terrorist on one of the aid trucks. But what about the prominent vehicle markings, you ask. According to Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan, only someone who has never observed drone optics at night during the fog of war would ask such a question.

In fact, such misidentification is more common than one would think. Case in point. During former US President Barack Obama’s first day in office in January 2009, the new commander-in-chief ordered a drone strike in Pakistan that killed up to 20 civilians. During his two terms in office, Obama would order 540 more strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen in which hundreds of civilians perished. Perhaps the most well-known of these tragedies occurred in October 2015 when a US gunship attacked a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan, killing 42 staff members and patients.

Misidentification mars current US President Joe Biden’s record too. During the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, US forces conducted a strike on what they thought was a terrorist transporting bombs. This case of mistaken identity cost the lives of 10 innocent civilians, including seven children.

Did Obama or Biden set out to murder the innocent? Of course not. But unfortunately, horrors like this occur frequently in the chaos, confusion, danger, destruction, mental overload, pressure and technical failure of war—for the exact same reasons that the WCK aid workers perished in Gaza on April 1. Moreover, the situation is exacerbated further when it isn’t two armies facing each other on the battlefield but rather an army trying to dislodge a terror group in civilian clothes posing as civilians and burrowed into every aspect of civilian life, like Hamas does in the Gaza Strip.

Yes, every army must make every effort to avoid harm to civilians. And no, accidents like these should not be swept under the rug. There should be independent investigations. Responsibility must be taken. Lessons must be learned. Yet you cannot escape the fact that anyone who steps onto the frontlines put themselves at risk of being killed or wounded.

Of course this does not detract from the tragedy of seven selfless individuals killed while trying to do good. But it does put the situation into perspective.

You can decry the killing of the WCK aid workers as a tragic mistake. But what you cannot do is turn this tragic mistake—a mistake that sadly occurs all too frequently in the chaos of war—into something of which Israel is solely guilty.

War is brutal beyond anything noncombatants can imagine. Israel did not want this war. If Hamas didn’t attack a sovereign nation on October 7, this war would not be raging, and the seven WCK aid workers and the civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip would still be alive. That is why the sole responsibility for every death in this war, including that of the WCK aid workers, rests with Hamas, not Israel.

Posted on April 11, 2024

Source: (Bridges for Peace, April 11, 2024)

Photo Credit: Tasnim/

Photo License: Wikimedia