Joe Biden ‘Outraged’ Over WCK Volunteers Killed in IDF Strike: ‘Israel Has Not Done Enough to Protect Aid Workers’

Seven members of the nonprofit relief group World Central Kitchen died in the incident on Monday

President Joe Biden (Getty Images)
President Joe Biden (Credit: Getty Images)

President Joe Biden said in a statement Tuesday that he is “outraged and heartbroken” over the deaths of seven World Central Kitchen volunteers — among them an American citizen — who were killed Monday by an IDF air strike while delivering food to civilians in Gaza.

In unusually strong terms, the president also criticized Israel’s conduct in its war against Hamas, declaring that the country “has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians,” and “has also not done enough to protect civilians.”

Israel’s investigation into the killings “must be swift” and “must bring accountability,” the president said, adding that “its findings must be made public.”

Biden also said that the U.S. “will continue to do all we can to deliver humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza” and pressured Israel to allow such aid through. He then announced that U.S. diplomats in Egypt are attempting to broker a hostage deal that includes “an immediate cease-fire.”

Founded in 2010 by Spanish-American chef José Andrés, World Central Kitchen has worked to deliver food to affected civilians in some of the worst disasters and war-torn areas around the planet. Following the deaths of WCK members on Monday, Andrés called on the Israeli government “to stop this indiscriminate killing,” and also “stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers and stop using food as a weapon. No more innocent lives lost. Peace starts with our shared humanity. It needs to start now.”

Israel’s IDF told ABC News that it is conducting a “thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident.”

Read Biden’s full statement below:

I am outraged and heartbroken by the deaths of seven humanitarian workers from World Central Kitchen, including one American, in Gaza yesterday. They were providing food to hungry civilians in the middle of a war. They were brave and selfless. Their deaths are a tragedy.

Israel has pledged to conduct a thorough investigation into why the aid workers’ vehicles were hit by airstrikes. That investigation must be swift, it must bring accountability, and its findings must be made public. 

Even more tragically, this is not a stand-alone incident. This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed. This is a major reason why distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza has been so difficult – because Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians. Incidents like yesterday’s simply should not happen. Israel has also not done enough to protect civilians. The United States has repeatedly urged Israel to deconflict their military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations, in order to avoid civilian casualties. 

The United States will continue to do all we can to deliver humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza, through all available means. I will continue to press Israel to do more to facilitate that aid. And we are pushing hard for an immediate ceasefire as part of a hostage deal. I have a team in Cairo working on this right now.

Earlier today, I spoke with my friend Chef José Andrés, the founder of World Central Kitchen, to convey my deepest condolences for the deaths of these courageous aid workers and to express my continued support for his and his team’s relentless and heroic efforts to get food to hungry people around the globe. 

May God bless the humanitarian workers killed yesterday and comfort their families and loved ones in their grief.

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