Warsaw demands explanation from Israel for strike that killed Polish aid worker and others in Gaza

Poland’s president and foreign ministry have called on Israel to explain the circumstances of a strike on World Central Kitchen (WCK) vehicles providing humanitarian aid in Gaza that resulted in the deaths of aid workers, including one Polish citizen.

Israel’s armed forces, the IDF, have expressed “sincere sorrow” over the deaths and pledged to carry out a “thorough and transparent” investigation.

Today @WCKitchen lost several of our sisters and brothers in an IDF air strike in Gaza. I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family. These are people…angels…I served alongside in Ukraine, Gaza, Turkey, Morocco, Bahamas, Indonesia. They… https://t.co/rM3xbsiQ1Q

— Chef José Andrés 🕊️🥘🍳 (@chefjoseandres) April 1, 2024

On Tuesday, WCK, which provides humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, announced that it was “devastated to confirm seven members of our team have been killed in an IDF strike in Gaza”.

It said that they had been “travelling in a deconflicted zone in two armoured cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle”. The organisation added that the Israeli strike had happened despite WCK “coordinating movements with the IDF”.

WCK revealed that those killed included citizens of Australia, the UK and Poland, as well as a dual US-Canadian citizen and a Palestinian. The organisation announced that it was suspending its operations in Gaza.

The Polish victim has been named as Damian Soból by the mayor of Przemyśl, the city which he was from. Another official at city hall told the Gazeta Wyborcza daily that Soból had also previously provided humanitarian aid in Ukraine.

Shortly afterwards, Poland’s foreign ministry released a statement “expressing our sincerest condolences to the family of the Polish volunteer who provided aid to the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip”.

“Poland does not agree to a lack of compliance with international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians, including humanitarian workers,” added the ministry.

Meanwhile, its head, Radosław Sikorski, announced that he had “personally asked Israeli ambassador Yacov Livne for urgent explanation” of what had happened. He said that the foreign ministry had also launched its own investigation.

Osobiście poprosiłem ambasadora Izraela @YacovLivne o pilne wyjaśnienia. Zapewnił mnie, że Polska wkrótce otrzyma wyniki badania tej tragedii. Nasze @MS_GOV_PL wszczyna śledztwo.
Przyłączam się do kondolencji wobec rodziny naszego dzielnego wolontariusza oraz wszystkich… https://t.co/GAzkanCApp

— Radosław Sikorski 🇵🇱🇪🇺 (@sikorskiradek) April 2, 2024

President Andrzej Duda announced that he had “received with deep pain the information about the death of volunteers from the World Central Kitchen organisation, including a Polish citizen, in the Gaza Strip”.

“My thoughts are with their loved ones. These brave people changed the world for the better with their service and dedication to others,” wrote the president, adding that “this tragedy should never have happened and must be explained”.

Z głębokim bólem przyjąłem informację o śmierci w Strefie Gazy wolontariuszy z organizacji World Central Kitchen, w tym polskiego obywatela. Jestem myślami z ich najbliższymi. Ci odważni ludzie swoją służbą i poświęceniem dla bliźnich zmieniali świat na lepsze. Tragedia ta nigdy…

— Andrzej Duda (@AndrzejDuda) April 2, 2024

Late on Tuesday morning Polish time, IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari released a video in which he “express[ed] sincere sorrow to our allied nations who have been doing and continue to do so much to assist those in need”.

“As a professional military committed to international law, we are committed to examining our operations thoroughly and transparently,” he added.

“The incident will be investigated in the Fact-Finding and Assessment Mechanism, an independent, professional, and expert body,” said Hagari. “This will help us reduce the risk of such an event from occurring again.”

IDF spokesperson, RAdm. Daniel Hagari, spoke with @WCKitchen founder, @chefjoseandres, and expressed the IDF’s deepest condolences to the entire World Central Kitchen family.

The work of WCK is critical. pic.twitter.com/nRUYZVxif3

— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) April 2, 2024

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Main image credit: Wafa/Wikimedia Commons (under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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