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US charity halts Gaza operations after Israel kills NGO workers

April 3, 2024 at 2:43 pm

American Near East Refugee Aid (Anera) installed 42 water tanks in Rafah, Gaza on 29 March 2024 Gaza [AneraOrg/X]

The American Near East Refugee Aid (Anera) yesterday announced the suspension of its humanitarian activities in Gaza following the recent attack on World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers in Deir Al-Balah.

In a statement, Anera explained that the recent killings, occurring shortly after the “unexplained death” of Anera staff member Mousa Shawwa, along with the loss of several other aid workers and their families, have led the organisation to conclude that delivering aid safely has become untenable.

The NGO said its logistics coordinator in Gaza, Mousa Shawwa, was killed in an air strike while sheltering with his extended family in Deir Al-Balah on 8 March. He had just returned from delivering humanitarian aid that afternoon and was still wearing his Anera jacket, according to the organisation.

“For the safety of our staff and their families, we are suspending Anera’s work in Gaza. While we understand the severe consequences this suspension will have on the Palestinian population, the escalating risks associated with aid delivery leave us with no choice but to halt operations until our staff regain confidence that they can do their work without undue risk,” it said.

Since the beginning of Israel’s aggression on Gaza on 7 October, Anera’s team, in collaboration with WCK, has been providing an average of 150,000 meals a day, along with medical treatments and thousands of other essential emergency aid items.

The ongoing targeting of humanitarian workers and the lack of adequate safety measures demand thorough investigation and immediate action, the charity added. “Israel bears the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the unhindered delivery of urgent humanitarian assistance and basic services to those in need.”

Anera further emphasised the need for an investigation and action to address the continuous targeting of humanitarian workers and the inadequacy of safety measures.

It stressed, “Israel, as the occupying authority in Gaza, holds ultimate responsibility for obstructing the delivery of essential supplies and failing to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers.”

“We reiterate our demand for adequate security for humanitarian and health workers, journalists and all civilians, and call for an immediate and enduring ceasefire.”

Monday’s attack was a serious setback in attempts to expedite aid into Gaza, where as many as one million Palestinians are on the verge of famine as a result of the Israeli military offensive on the enclave and the siege imposed on it. More than two million Palestinians are suffering from severe malnutrition.

Israel has said the air strike was “tragic” and unintended, even though WCK said it had coordinated movements with the Israeli military and two armoured cars were emblazoned with the charity’s logo.

Moreover, investigations carried out by Al Jazeera and Bellingcat have concluded that Israel purposely targeted the WCK staff as they were travelling along a “deconflicted zone” and had coordinated their movements with the Israeli occupation army. The three cars they were travelling in were approximately 2.4 kilometres apart and were struck with precision guided missiles, which only Israel operates in the area, the studies found.

READ: UN: 196 humanitarian workers killed in Gaza