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Gaza is ‘world’s most dangerous place to deliver aid’, UK charities warn

Recent deaths demonstrate there is ‘no safe place in Gaza, whether you are Palestinian, British or any other nationality’, said a UK-based charity.

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UK-based aid agencies have condemned an air strike which killed seven humanitarian workers in Gaza, describing the region as the “world’s most dangerous place to deliver aid”.

It is understood three British nationals were among those killed, alongside an Australian, a Polish national, an American-Canadian dual citizen and a Palestinian.

Non-profit organisation World Central Kitchen (WCK) said that seven of its members were travelling through a deconflicted zone in WCK-branded vehicles when they were killed.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told broadcasters during a visit to the north east of England: “We are asking Israel to investigate what happened urgently, because clearly there are questions that need to be answered.”

Amnesty International UK has said the UK Government “need to finally start confronting the reality of Israeli war crimes in Gaza”.

“Years of so-called ‘investigations’ by Israel into abuses committed by its forces in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem have worked to deny justice for grieving Palestinian families, and there’s no reason whatsoever to think this ‘investigation’ will be any different.

“The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and other ministers need to finally start confronting the reality of Israeli war crimes in Gaza and take action now to ensure there are consequences.

“The UK should immediately stop transfers of arms to Israel, stop the trade in settlement goods and fully support efforts by the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice to examine the long catalogue of Israeli atrocities in Gaza.

“It’s long overdue for the UK to change course on this harrowing crisis, including by calling for an immediate ceasefire, exerting pressure on Israel over allowing vastly scaled-up aid deliveries, and also demanding that Israel end its 17-year-long blockade of Gaza, which is an act of collective punishment.

“If we get no more than this weak and disingenuous response to Israel’s killing of aid workers in Gaza, then the UK risks slipping into deeper complicity with possible acts of genocide and Israel’s decades-long system of apartheid against the Palestinian people.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the aid workers were killed by an “unintended strike” by Israeli forces.

Mr Sunak said the Government’s “longstanding” view is that Israel has the “intention and the ability” to comply with international humanitarian law.

UK-based charity Medical Aid for Palestinians condemned the “horrific attack” and said the deaths demonstrate there is “no safe place in Gaza, whether you are Palestinian, British or any other nationality”.

It added: “Gaza is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be an aid worker right now.

“Every day our team in Gaza have to risk their lives to provide vital aid to those in need.”

Israel-Hamas conflict
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaking to media during a visit to Medical Aid for Palestinians in London (Yui Mok/PA)

In January, it reported a near-fatal air strike by the Israeli military on a residential compound housing some of its staff.

Senior Conservative MP Alicia Kearns told the PA news agency there was “still no explanation for the bombing of the Medical Aid for Palestine complex in a safe zone, which had also been deconflicted directly with the IDF in January, which four British doctors fortunately survived”.

“Humanitarian agencies must be given the assurances they need that their people will be protected,” she added.

UK-founded charity Islamic Relief said it was “outraged” by the tragedy, and called for an immediate ceasefire.

A spokesperson said: “Six months of Israeli bombing has turned Gaza into the world’s most dangerous place to deliver aid.

“More than 200 aid workers, mostly Palestinians, have been killed – the deadliest ever crisis for humanitarian workers.

“Only an immediate ceasefire and an end to Israel’s siege can prevent famine and mass loss of life now.”

Matthew Hollingworth, World Food Programme country director for Palestine, said he knew four of the aid workers killed.

“These are our friends, these are people we worked very closely with over the past weeks,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“There is going to have to be a full, very high-level scale investigation by the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) into what happened, what went wrong.”

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