World Central Kitchen names American Jacob Flickinger as victim of Israeli airstrike in Gaza

April 3, 2024

Tel Aviv — World Central Kitchen, the food charity founded by Spanish-American celebrity chef José Andrés, has named U.S.-Canadian dual national Jacob Flickinger, 33, as one of the seven members of its team killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza late Monday night. The other WCK staff members killed in the attack, which Israel’s military has called a “grave mistake,” have been identified as Palestinian, British, Polish and Australian nationals.

It appears their three-vehicle convoy was hit by several successive missile strikes despite the non-profit group having coordinated the team’s movements with the Israel Defense Forces.

“It was a mistake that followed a misidentification at night, during a war, in very complex conditions,” IDF Chief of the General Staff Herzl Halevi said, echoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who lamented it as a tragic accident, which he said, “happens in war.”

An image shared by the World Central Kitchen shows the seven members of the food charity’s staff who it says were killed by Israeli airstrikes on April 1, 2024 in the Gaza Strip, including U.S.-Canadian dual national Jacob Flickinger, 33, seen at the top right. The other WCK staffers killed in the attack, which Israel’s military called a “grave mistake,” were identified as Palestinian, British, Polish and Australian nationals.

World Central Kitchen

The U.S. government said it was outraged by the deaths and, along with Britain and the other nations involved, called on Israel to carry out a swift and impartial investigation.

“We’ve impressed upon the Israelis the absolute imperative of doing more to protect civilian lives, be they Palestinian children, women and men, or aid workers,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday.

Israel’s handling of its relentless war against Hamas, triggered by the Palestinian group’s Oct. 7 terror attack that saw it kill some 1,200 people, has increasingly strained relations between Tel Aviv and the U.S. — long Israel’s most valuable ally. Health officials in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, who do not distinguish between combatant and civilian deaths, say Israel has killed more than 32,000 people in the enclave since the war started, most of them women and children.

Under a deal signed during the Obama administration, the U.S. agreed to give Israel $3.8 billion worth of military assistance per year. That assistance — including consignments of both guided “smart” bombs and less precise “dumb” bombs — has continued despite mounting pressure from Washington for the IDF to mitigate civilian casualties in Gaza.

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Nowhere is the tension between the close allies more evident than it is over Israel’s plans to launch a ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Around 1.5 million Palestinians have poured into Rafah and the surrounding area, right along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, seeking shelter from the Israeli offensive elsewhere in the territory. Thousands are living in tents or other makeshift shelters, and aid agencies say there aren’t nearly enough basic goods reaching those in need.

Netanyahu and his cabinet and military commanders have insisted on the need to destroy Hamas’ remaining battalions in Rafah, and while the U.S. has warned Israel repeatedly against launching a full-scale assault without a credible plan to protect and evacuate civilians, the White House has continued backing Israel’s right to eliminate the threat posed by Hamas.

The World Central Kitchen, meanwhile, has paused all of its operations in Gaza, making it even harder for the world to get desperately needed food to the thousands of people who need it in the decimated enclave.

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Before the incident, WCK said it had shipped more than 37 million meals to Gaza since the war started on Oct. 7.

“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,” the group’s CEO Erin Gore said in a statement, calling the Israeli strikes “unforgivable.”

In a lengthy social media post, Andrés called on Israel’s government to “stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon.”

“Israel is better than the way this war is being waged,” he said in a New York Times opinion piece.

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