Quaker group in Gaza: “Humanitarian workers should never be a target”

Layne Mullett
Director of Media Relations


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IDF killing of international aid workers further endangers humanitarian efforts

PHILADELPHIA (April 2, 2024) – On the evening of April 1, seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen were killed by an Israeli military strike after delivering food aid to Gaza. At least 196 aid workers have been killed in Gaza since October 7, the majority of whom worked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization with staff in Gaza who partnered with World Central Kitchen – spoke out against the killings and called for an immediate and permanent cease-fire and full humanitarian access.  

The World Central Kitchen (WCK) personnel were killed while returning from delivering 100 tons of food aid to their warehouse in Gaza – equivalent to about five trucks of aid. As thousands of trucks are waiting for the Israeli military’s approval to enter Gaza at land borders, WCK and others have tried to deliver aid by sea and air to prevent widespread famine. The WCK workers were killed despite the fact that they were in clearly marked, non-military vehicles and had coordinated their movements with the Israeli army.

“We mourn the deaths of the seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen, along with the hundreds of Palestinian medical workers, journalists, and other humanitarian workers killed while providing lifesaving services under the worst possible conditions,” said Kerri Kennedy, AFSC’s Associate General Secretary for International Programs. “The number of humanitarian workers that have been killed in Gaza to date far exceeds other conflicts; numbers that were previously unimaginable and that are unacceptable by all measures of international humanitarian law. Our staff in Gaza have said that they are still alive by chance, as the basic minimum safety and security conditions to operate don’t exist. The Israeli Army continues to target declared ‘safe spaces,’ and there is no place safe in the whole Gaza strip.”

This tragedy happens in a context where Israel is using starvation and withholding health care access as weapons of war. The same day WCK was attacked, horrifying images and stories began to emerge from the most recent IDF siege and destruction of Al-Shifa Hospital. Under International Humanitarian Law, humanitarian relief personnel must be respected and protected, a corollary of the prohibition of starvation and the imperative to care for the wounded and sick. The safety and security of humanitarian relief personnel is an indispensable condition for delivering humanitarian relief to civilian populations in need.

“Israel, as the occupying power in Gaza, holds the ultimate responsibility for ensuring people have the basic minimum requirements to survive, including food, water, health, and safety,” said Aura Kanegis, AFSC’s Director of Public Policy and Advocacy.  “We call for a permanent cease-fire, and the opening of all land crossings to guarantee the access of the aid required to adequately address the man-made catastrophe in the Gaza strip. And we call on the Biden administration to immediately stop all military support for Israel in the face of this genocide and ongoing apartheid.” 

AFSC began working in Palestine in 1948, when the organization was asked by the United Nations to set up the initial refugee camp system in Gaza. AFSC currently has staff in Gaza, Ramallah, and Jerusalem, as well as in Jordan. Since late December, AFSC staff in Gaza have been serving hot meals from an open-air kitchen to displaced people living outside of shelters. They have helped thousands of displaced families by providing them with water, food parcels, fresh vegetables, and hygiene kits, and have hosted recreational activities for children. 

Learn more about AFSC’s work in Gaza here: https://afsc.org/topics/gaza-israel


The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression. Guided by the Quaker belief in the divine light within each person, we nurture the seeds of change and the respect for human life to fundamentally transform our societies and institutions. We work with people and partners worldwide, of all faiths and backgrounds, to meet urgent community needs, challenge injustice, and build peace.