IDF: Strike that killed World Central Kitchen workers was 'serious failure due to a mistaken identification'

The Israel Defense Forces on Friday released the results of an investigation into a missile strike that killed several World Central Kitchen aid workers in the Gaza Strip.

IDF investigators said the incident “should not have occurred” and that the authorities who approved the strike had been mistakenly convinced they were targeting Hamas operatives. Two officers, a brigade fire support commander and brigade chief of staff, will be dismissed from their positions. 

“The strike on the aid vehicles is 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,” the IDF said. 

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IDF graphic shows World Central Kitchen aid worker airstrike

The Israeli Defense Forces on Friday released a graphic as part of their investigation into the deadly strikes on World Central Kitchen aid workers. (Israeli Defense Forces)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel had mistakenly killed seven people working for the aid charity, including a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, which prompted international condemnation and demands for an explanation.

The IDF investigation found that forces had identified a gunman on one of the aid trucks and then found additional gunmen. After the vehicles delivered aid to a warehouse, Israeli military commanders had mistakenly assumed the gunmen were Hamas terrorists and that they were riding in the vehicles.

Israeli forces did not identify the vehicles as belonging to the World Central Kitchen. Following the mistaken identification, the military carried out strikes on the three vehicles, which killed seven aid workers.  

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World Central Kitchen killed in Israeli strike

Israeli airstrikes that killed the aid workers in Gaza reverberated around the world, as friends and relatives mourned the losses of those who had been delivering food to besieged Palestinians with the charity World Central Kitchen. Top left to right: Palestinian Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom of Australia, Damian Soból of Poland, and Jacob Flickinger of the U.S. and Canada. Bottom left to right: John Chapman of Britain, James Henderson of Britain and James Kirby of Britain.  (AP)

The U.S. and other allies have stepped up criticism of Israel for civilian casualties in Gaza, where thousands have died in the six months since Israel invaded in response to the Oct. 7 surprise attack by Hamas. 

The World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres, announced Tuesday that it would pause all operations in Gaza after the “unforgivable” Israeli strike.

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Israel-Palestinians

People inspect the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, April 2, 2024. World Central Kitchen, an aid group, says an Israeli strike that hit its workers in Gaza killed at least seven people, including several foreigners.

The group said its team had been “traveling in a deconflicted zone in two armored cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle” in central Gaza on Monday when it came under fire, resulting in the deaths of the American, a Palestinian worker and others from Australia, Poland and the United Kingdom. 

World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore described the incident as “not only an attack against WCK,” but an “attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war” and that it is “unforgivable.” 

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Israel denies targeting civilians and said the strike that killed the WCK workers was carried out by mistake. In addition to the two officers who will be dismissed, a brigade commander and 162nd Division commander will be formally reprimanded, according to the IDF. The commander of the Southern Command will be reprimanded as well “for his overall responsibility for the incident,” the military said.

“The IDF takes seriously the grave incident that claimed the lives of seven innocent humanitarian aid workers. We express our deep sorrow for the loss and send our condolences to the families and the WCK organization,” the IDF said. 

Fox News Digital’s Greg Norman and Reuters contributed to this report. 

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