World Central Kitchen workers killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza will be honored at memorial

WASHINGTON (AP) — A memorial at the National Cathedral in Washington on Thursday will honor the seven World Central Kitchen aid workers killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza earlier this month.

José Andrés, the celebrity chef and philanthropist behind the Washington-based World Central Kitchen disaster relief group, is expected to speak at the celebration of life service, and famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform, organizers said.

The Biden administration said Thursday that Douglas Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, and U.S. Assistant Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell would be among senior administration figures attending.

The aid workers were killed April 1 when a succession of Israeli armed drones ripped through vehicles in their convoy as they left one of World Central Kitchen’s warehouses on a food delivery mission. Those who died were Palestinian Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha; Britons John Chapman, James Kirby and James Henderson; dual U.S.-Canadian citizen Jacob Flickinger; Australian Lalzawmi Frankcom; and Polish citizen Damiam Sobol.

After an unusually swift investigation, Israel said the military officials involved in the strike had violated policy by acting based on a single grainy photo that one officer had contended — incorrectly — showed one of the seven workers was armed. The Israeli military dismissed two officers and reprimanded three others.

The aid workers, whose trip had been coordinated with Israeli officials, are among more than 220 humanitarian workers killed in the six-month-old Israel-Hamas war, according to the United Nations. That includes at least 30 killed in the line of duty.

The international prominence and popularity of Andres and his nonprofit work galvanized widespread outrage over the killings of the World Central Kitchen workers. The slayings intensified demands from the Biden administration and others that Israel’s military change how it operates in Gaza to spare aid workers and Palestinian civilians at large, who are facing a humanitarian crisis and desperately need aid from relief organizations as the U.N. warns of looming famine.

World Central Kitchen, along with several other humanitarian aid agencies, suspended work in Gaza after the attack. “We haven’t given up,” World Central Kitchen spokesperson Linda Roth said last week. “We are in funeral mode right now.”

Religious leaders of a range of faiths are set to participate in Thursday’s services. Funerals were held earlier in the workers’ home countries.


AP writer Menelaos Hadjicostis in Nicosia, Cyprus, contributed to this report.

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