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World Central Kitchen says 7 staff members killed in 'targeted attack by the IDF' in Gaza

The deadly attack will exacerbate an already dire food crisis in Gaza, which aid agencies have said is on the brink of famine.

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Seven members of a World Central Kitchen team working in Gaza have been killed in what the charity organization called a "targeted attack" by the Israel Defense Forces.

The team was traveling through a deconflicted zone in three vehicles, two of which were WCK-branded armored cars, when all three were struck, the organization said in a statement Tuesday. The team had just left a warehouse in Deir al-Balah after unloading more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid, and WCK said it had coordinated the convoy's movements with the IDF.

The organization identified the seven people killed as Palestinian, Australian, Polish, British and a U.S.-Canada dual citizen.

The nonprofit group's CEO, Erin Gore, called Tuesday's airstrike on its team a "targeted attack by the IDF."

"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," Gore said in the statement. "This is unforgivable."

People inspect the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed.
People inspect the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip.Abdel Kareem Hana / AP

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said it is "reviewing the incident" but did not confirm that the Israeli military was responsible for the aid workers' deaths. Later Tuesday, as he departed a hospital following a hernia surgery, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged "a tragic case of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people in the Gaza Strip," though he did not explicitly mention WCK.

Almost 200 humanitarian workers have been killed since October, according to Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories. Multiple nongovernmental organizations, including Doctors Without Borders, the Red Crescent and UNRWA, have condemned IDF airstrikes on their workers.

WCK, a food aid organization that operates in crisis areas around the world, has been organizing aid to Gaza since December. The deadly attack on its staff will further exacerbate the already dire food crisis in Gaza, which aid agencies have said is on the brink of famine. WCK said it was pausing operations in Gaza “immediately,” and?Cypriot Foreign Ministry spokesperson Theodoros Gotsis told NBC News on Tuesday?that around 240 tons of aid that the charity had organized but not yet delivered is now returning to Cyprus.

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