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World Central Kitchen demands independent investigation into fatal Israeli strikes

The international food charity World Central Kitchen (WCK) is requesting an independent investigation into an Israeli strike earlier this week that killed six of its workers and a translator.

The nongovernmental group (NGO) asked the U.S., Australia, Canada, Poland and the U.K. to “join” it in demanding “an independent, third-party’’ probe into Monday’s incident.

“This was a military attack that involved multiple strikes and targeted three WCK vehicles,” the aid group said in a statement Thursday.

“All three vehicles were carrying civilians; they were marked as WCK vehicles; and their movements were in full compliance with Israeli authorities, who were aware of their itinerary, route, and humanitarian mission,” it added.

WCK said it has asked the Israeli government to preserve all evidence related to the strike, including video, audio recordings, documents and other communication.

“An independent investigation is the only way to determine the truth of what happened, ensure transparency and accountability for those responsible, and prevent future attacks on humanitarian aid workers,” WCK said in the request.

The aid group was forced to suspend operations in the region in the aftermath of the strike, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The organization, founded by the celebrity chef José Andrés, launched a food program in the area earlier this year.

Andrés called out the Israeli military Wednesday, arguing it “systematically” targeted the group “car by car.” Following the incident, he also claimed Israel was “better” than the way it has handled its war against Hamas militants in Gaza.

“This was not just a bad luck situation where, ‘Oops, we dropped the bomb in the wrong place,’” Andrés told Reuters. “Even if we were not in coordination with the [Israeli military], no democratic country and no military can be targeting civilians and humanitarians.”

President Biden is expected to have a call with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday morning.

Netanyahu issued a public statement regarding the strike, taking responsibility and calling it “unintended.” While he expressed regret for the deaths, he also defended the military operations in Gaza.

“This happens in war,” he said. “We are conducting a thorough inquiry and are in contact with the governments. We will do everything to prevent a recurrence.”

Biden pushed back Tuesday, saying Israel has “not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also expressed outrage at the Israeli strike on the aid group’s convoy during his Wednesday call with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, according to the Pentagon.

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