Doug Emhoff to attend memorial for World Central Kitchen workers killed in Israeli strike

WASHINGTON — Second gentleman Doug Emhoff will represent the Biden administration at a memorial Thursday for the seven humanitarian aid workers with World Central Kitchen who were killed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza this month.

The American charity, run by celebrity Chef José Andrés, is set to host an interfaith service at Washington National Cathedral to “honor our heroes,” according to a release from the group.

Curtis Ried, chief of staff and executive secretary of the White House National Security Council, is also expected to attend.

President Joe Biden will be traveling to Syracuse, N.Y., for an economic event on Thursday and cannot attend, though he will be sending a letter to be read aloud, according to national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris reached out to Andres to extend their condolences after the aid workers were killed on April 1.

One of the seven employees, Jacob Flickinger, was a dual American and Canadian citizen. Others were from Britain, Australia, Poland, along with a Palestinian driver. Biden publicly said he was “outraged” by their deaths.

The Israel Defense Forces released a preliminary investigation into how its military targeted humanitarian workers, calling it a “grave mistake.” The inquiry found that “the incident should not have occurred” and said that those who approved the strike “were convinced that they were targeting armed Hamas operatives and not WCK employees.”

The White House has yet to offer an assessment of that report and says it is still reviewing the findings, according to a U.S. official.

WCK has called for an independent investigation.

Before the strike, WCK was poised to be a key partner in helping to provide and distribute aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, many of whom are facing imminent famine, according to experts. Since the aid workers were killed, the humanitarian group has withdrawn all of its operations from Gaza and has not said when it might resume them.

The memorial service on Thursday will include a performance by famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and several faith leaders will give remarks.

Emhoff partnered with Andrés to host an event at the White House in February focused on eradicating hunger and promoting healthy eating nationwide.

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