3 Apr, 2024 @ 11:37
2 mins read

‘Israel needs to stop killing’: Spanish chef Jose Andres’s message to Benjamin Netanyahu after seven of his NGO workers were killed in Gaza

SPANISH chef Jose Andres conveyed a stark message to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, after seven members of staff at his NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) were killed by an Israeli air strike on Monday night. The country, he wrote, ‘needs to stop killing civilians and aid workers today’.

Andres’ message was contained in an op-ed he wrote for Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, and in which he also praised the members of his team who died in the bombing. 

Three of the victims were from the UK, one was Palestinian, another had dual US-Canadian nationality, one was Polish and one was Australian. 

“The seven people killed on a World Central Kitchen (WCK) mission in Gaza on Monday were the best of humanity. They risked everything for the most fundamental human activity: to share our food with others,” he wrote

He then named the victims: “Zomi Frankcom, Damian Sobol, Jacob Flickinger, Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, John Chapman, James Kirby, James Henderson – their work was based on a simple belief: that food is a universal human right.”

His NGO, he continued, does ‘not ask what religion you belong to. We just ask how many meals you need.’

According to Andres, who is 54 and has found huge success as a celebrity chef and a restaurateur in the United States, WCK has already served more than 1.75 million hot meals in Israel to ‘families displaced by Hezbollah rockets in the north’, ‘grieving families from the south’, and ‘hospitals where hostages were reunited with their families’. 

What’s more, he continued in his column, the NGO has also served ‘more than 43 million meals in Gaza, preparing hot food in 68 community kitchens where Palestinians are feeding Palestinians’.

Then came his message for Israel, and in particular Netanyahu: “Israel is better than the way this war is being waged,” he wrote. “It is better than blocking food and medicine to civilians. It is better than killing aid workers who coordinate their movements with the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces].

“The Israeli government needs to open land routes to food and medicine today. It needs to stop killing civilians and aid workers today. It needs to start the long journey to peace today,” he wrote. 

He also said that the WCK welcomed ‘the IDF and the government’s promise of an investigation into how and why our WCK family was killed. That investigation needs to start at the top, not just the bottom’.

Andres also made reference to Netanyahu’s response to the killing of the aid workers, the Israeli prime minister having said: “This happens in wartime.”

“But the air strikes on our convoy were not just some unfortunate mistake in the fog of war,” Andres wrote. “It was a direct attack on clearly marked vehicles whose movements were known by the IDF.”

The founder of the WCK concluded: “It is not a sign of weakness to feed strangers; it is a sign of strength. The people of Israel need to remember, at this darkest hour, what strength truly looks like.” 

Read more:

British and American citizens are among seven aid workers killed by an Israeli strike in Gaza

Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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