Photo Credit: REUTERS/Ahmed Zakot

An Israeli air raid has resulted in the deaths of six international aid workers and a Palestinian driver. World Central Kitchen (WCK), a United States-based aid group, confirmed the fatalities on Tuesday, labeling the incident as a “targeted attack” by the Israeli military.

The victims hailed from Palestine, Australia, Poland, and the United Kingdom, as well as a US-Canada dual citizen. According to WCK, the attack occurred while their staff members were in the process of delivering food from the organization’s latest shipment to Gaza, where a dire humanitarian crisis has unfolded due to Israel’s offensive.

Footage from the scene depicted the bodies of those killed being brought to a hospital in the central town of Deir el-Balah, some of whom were adorned in protective gear featuring the charity’s logo.

In response to the devastating loss, WCK announced the immediate suspension of its operations in the region. The airstrike dealt a significant blow to efforts aimed at providing aid via sea routes, necessitated by Israeli restrictions on access to Gaza, where famine looms large according to experts.

“The WCK team was traveling in a deconflicted zone in two armored cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle,” the charity stated in a released statement. “Despite coordinating movements with the [Israeli army], the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route.”

Expressing outrage over the incident, Erin Gore, CEO of the charity, condemned the attack as an affront not only to WCK but to humanitarian organizations at large. “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. This is unforgivable.”

The bodies of the aid workers have been transported to a hospital in the southern city of Rafah, situated on the Egyptian border. Foreign nationals’ remains are slated for evacuation from Gaza, while the body of the Palestinian driver will be handed over to his family in Rafah for burial.