Why Israel killed the World Central Kitchen workers in Gaza

Why Israel killed the World Central Kitchen workers in Gaza

Why Israel killed the World Central Kitchen workers in Gaza
Palestinians pass a World Central Kitchen vehicle wrecked in an Israeli airstrike, Deir al-Balah, Gaza, Apr. 2, 2024. (AP Photo)
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Israel has described its clearly deliberate killing of seven humanitarian aid workers in Gaza on April 1 as a “grave mistake” and a “tragic event” that “happens in war.” It is, obviously, lying. This entire so-called war — actually genocide — in Gaza has been based on a series of lies, some of which Israel continues to peddle.

For some in the mainstream media, it took months to accept the obvious fact that Israel has been lying about the events that led to the war and the military objectives of its constant targeting of hospitals, schools, shelters and other civilian facilities.

So, it was only logical for Israel to lie about killing the six international World Central Kitchen workers and their Palestinian driver. Notwithstanding an event as atrocious as this, it is implausible for Israel to start telling the truth now.

Luckily, few seem to believe Israel’s version of events regarding the attack or its ongoing massacres elsewhere in Gaza. Israel “cannot credibly investigate its own failure in Gaza,” the US-based World Central Kitchen said in a statement last week.

The issue of targeting these aid workers has to be placed within a larger context.

Israel was hardly secretive about its intention to deny Palestinians in Gaza even the most basic necessities, as epitomized by the words of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Oct. 9: “There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed.” Initially, this statement and many others like it were understood to be an outcome of Israel’s desire to punish Palestinians for the Oct. 7 Al-Aqsa Flood operation by resorting to its typical tactic of collective punishment. With time, however, and based on statements made by other Israeli officials, it became clear that Israel wanted to ethnically cleanse Palestinians altogether.

The Israeli stratagem was immediately rejected by Egypt, Jordan, Arab countries and, eventually, by other governments around the world. Israel, however, persisted. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said that the “voluntary migration” of Palestinians in Gaza is the “right humanitarian solution.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concurred. “Our problem is (finding) countries that are willing to absorb Gazans, and we are working on it,” he said.

But for ethnic cleansing to take place, several prerequisites had to be fulfilled.

One, the bulk of Gaza’s 2.3 million population had to be forced to the south, as close to the Egyptian border as possible. This has been achieved.

Two, all aspects of life had to be destroyed throughout Gaza, including all hospitals and clinics. The most obvious examples of this were the grisly massacre at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital on Oct. 17 and the bloodbath and eventual total destruction of Gaza’s largest medical complex, Al-Shifa, on April 1.

When the Israeli military pulled out of the area around Al-Shifa Hospital, they left behind one of the most tragic scenes in the history of modern warfare. Hundreds of bodies were hurriedly buried in mass graves, amid charred buildings and indescribable ruins. Children’s limbs were sticking out of the dirt, whole families tied together and executed and other crimes that will take the world a long time to fathom, let alone explain.

Still, and nonchalantly so, former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that “not one civilian” was killed in Al-Shifa. Again, Israel is lying.

Three, from an Israeli perspective, most shelters, bakeries, markets, electric grids and water generators also had to be targeted so that the hapless population, especially of northern Gaza, would realize that life there is simply unsustainable.

Becoming fully aware of Israel’s ultimate plan of inducing a famine in Gaza, Palestinians fought back. Their counterstrategy was predicated on ensuring that as many Palestinians as possible remained in northern Gaza and that those concentrated in Rafah were not pushed into the Sinai desert.

Aside from the ongoing battle between the Israeli army and Palestinian resistance in Gaza, there was another type of war taking place: Israel’s push for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the latter’s desire to survive and remain within the Strip’s borders.

This is precisely why Israel has killed scores of Palestinians involved in the work of facilitating life in northern and central Gaza. According to the UN, prior to the attack on World Central Kitchen’s international workers, Israel had already killed 196 humanitarian aid workers. This number does not include doctors, medical staff, civil defense workers, police chiefs and officers or anyone contributing to sustaining life in areas that Israel wanted empty of its inhabitants.

Even when, under international pressure, Israel allowed limited aid to enter northern Gaza, its military repeatedly targeted the Palestinians who desperately gathered in the hope of receiving the lifesaving supplies.

According to a report released last week by the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, Israel killed 563 Palestinians and injured 1,523 between Jan. 11 and March 23 when it attacked people waiting for aid at designated spots in northern Gaza or targeted distribution centers and the workers responsible for distributing aid. The Kuwait Roundabout area in Gaza City alone witnessed the murder of 256 starving refugees, while 230 others were killed on Al-Rashid Street.

The Israeli bombing is not random, as it also targeted and killed 41 police officers who had been working with volunteers from various Gaza clans to help the UN Refugee and Works Agency distribute aid among the famine-stricken population. Even the clans themselves were targeted in equally merciless bombardments.

Notwithstanding an event as atrocious as this, it is implausible for Israel to start telling the truth now.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud

Similar to the outcome of the attack on the World Central Kitchen workers, each time an entity responsible for delivering aid is attacked, it declares it will no longer be involved in Gaza. This is how the Strip’s hunger has turned into outright famine.

The latest killing of international aid workers in Gaza was done to serve the same agenda: ensuring that no aid distribution mechanism is allowed.

Ironically, the involvement of World Central Kitchen was itself an outcome of a US-negotiated agreement that denied the Gaza authorities and even UNRWA any role in receiving and distributing aid.

Israel must be stopped at any cost and Israeli war criminals must be held accountable for one of the greatest genocides in modern history.

  • Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and author. He is editor of The Palestine Chronicle and nonresident senior research fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappe, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out.” X: @RamzyBaroud
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