Middle East

Chef José Andrés says Israel engaging in ‘war against humanity itself’ in Gaza

The White House has pushed back on comments by World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés that Israel is engaged in “war against humanity itself” following the Israeli drone strike attack that killed seven of his aid workers on 1 April, but ruled out putting US monitors on the ground in Gaza.

“There’s going to have to be some changes to the way Israeli defense forces are prosecuting these operations in Gaza to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” White House national security communications adviser John Kirby told ABC’s This Week said on Sunday.

“There have to got to be changes in the deconfliction process, between aid workers on the ground and the IDF headquarters so that this kind of targeting can’t happen again,” Kirby said Sunday, but would not be drawn on claims that Israeli drone operators would have been able see the insignia three WCK vehicles carrying the workers that identified them as part of an aid convoy.

In an earlier interview on This Week, Andrés had said that the IDF attack on his workers “is not anymore about the seven men and women of World Central Kitchen that perished on this unfortunate event. This is happening for way too long. It’s been six months of targeting anything that seems – moves,” Andrés said.

“This doesn’t seem a war against terror,” Andrés added. “This doesn’t seem anymore a war about defending Israel. This really, at this point, seems it’s a war against humanity itself.”

The IDF said Friday that there had been three strikes against the convoy, and confirmed that World Central Kitchen had coordinated their movements correctly with them in advance.

It said that Israeli officials had failed to update commanders on the convoy and that they were“ convinced that they were targeting armed Hamas operatives and not WCK employees.” The strikes, the IDF added, had been “a grave mistake”.

But Andrés refuted those findings, telling ABC News: “Every time something happens, we cannot just be bringing Hamas into the equation.”

Asked if destroying three vehicles was following legitimate rules of engagement, Kirby said that the US knew from its own experience that “the intelligence you get, analyze and process may not always be accurate and you act on that intelligence…”

But the White House adviser refused to say what consequences the US would impose if the Israel does not act on commitments to allow more humanitarian aid in and reduce violence against civilians in Gaza.

“We have to judge it over time, and see if there’s a sustained and verifiable way so that confidence can be restored,” Kirby said. But against increasing calls for the US to suspend or reduce weapons transfers to Israel, Kirby echoed president Biden’s comments to Israeli prime minster Benjamin Netanyahu last week.

“We’ve got to see changes in the way they are prosecuting these operations and we’re going to have to think about making changes in our own policy toward Gaza.” But, he said: “We have to remember that Israel has a right to defend itself and its important to remember they live in a tough neighborhood.”

Kirby downplayed reports on Sunday that the IDF was withdrawing forces from southern Gaza, saying he would let the Israelis speak to their operations.

“It’s hard to know exactly what that tells us,” he said. “This is really just about rest and refit for these troops that have been on the ground for four months – and not indicative, so far as we can tell, or some coming new operation.”

“The word we’re getting is that they’re tired and need to be refit,” he added.

But Kirby rejected calls for there to be US personnel on the ground in Gaza to monitor Israeli accountability to the rules of law are followed. “What we will do is make sure they have the tools and capabilities they need to defend themselves, and hold Israel accountable for the way they are conducting these operations.”

Kirby said that Chef Andrés was not wrong when he said you can be a “good friend of Israel in helping them to defend themselves and at the same time holding them to an appropriate standard of accountability”.

Meanwhile, one of the late aid workers’ father told Secretary of State Antony Blinken the killings by Israel in the Hamas-run territory must end, and that the United States needs to use its power and leverage over its closest Mideast ally to make that happen.

John Flickinger’s 33-year-old son, Jacob Flickinger, a dual US and Canadian citizen, was among the seven humanitarian workers killed in the 1 April drone strikes.

“If the United States threatened to suspend aid to Israel, maybe my son would be alive today,” John Flickinger told the Associated Press in describing his 30-minute conversation Saturday with Blinken.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.