Aid workers were unloading a million meals. Here’s how the IDF killed them


There is a more direct, safer route from Deir al-Balah to Rafah, but the IDF has prohibited its use for humanitarian aid.

Convoy attacked

The convoy had only travelled a few kilometres along the coastal road when each car was hit by an airstrike in succession.

In one image a huge hole is visible on the roof of one of the cars where a missile tore through before exploding. In another, doors hang off a blackened vehicle, barely attached.

Haaretz, Israel’s longest-running newspaper, quoting unnamed defence forces reported the IDF had destroyed the three vehicles because it suspected an armed fighter was travelling with the convoy. The target had not left the warehouse with the aid workers, it said.

Deadly missiles

Experts have told various media outlets that the vehicles were almost certainly targeted with Israeli-designed Spike missiles – a self-guided weapon that Australia was due to acquire this year after signing a contract worth $50 million.

Chris Lincoln-Jones, a former British Army major who spent five years studying Israeli military technology, said the images of destroyed vehicles were consistent with the highly accurate Spike missiles.

“It’s the only missile that I know of in the Israeli army that, in my experience, would cause so little collateral damage. It would only kill the people in the car,” he told The Times. “If you aim at the driver’s side, you will hit the driver full-on. If you were across the street from the car, you’d be shaken up and you might be hit by a few splinters, but you would survive.”

The Strike missiles were likely launched from a Hermes 450 drone, a $3 million unmanned aircraft designed in Israel.

News filters out on social media

It wasn’t immediately clear how many aid workers had been killed.

Footage of three bloody passports recovered from the scene appeared on social media and offered the first hint of the nationalities involved, including an Australian.

Graphic footage shared online showed bodies being pulled from ambulances outside Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah. Passports, including an Australian one, were placed on two bodies wearing body armour. Early reports suggested five foreign workers had been killed.

WCK released a statement on Tuesday morning that cleared up the death toll: seven aid workers had been killed, six being foreign, despite the organisation co-ordinating the journey with the IDF.

“This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organisations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable,” the charity’s CEO Erin Gore said.

IDF apologises

Later on Tuesday, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi apologised for its “grave mistake” in a video posted on X.

“I want to be very clear: the strike was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers. It was a mistake that followed a misidentification, at night, during a war in very complex conditions. It shouldn’t have happened,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the IDF had unintentionally harmed non-combatants – but that was something that happens during conflict.

“This happens in war. We are conducting a thorough inquiry and are in contact with the governments. We will do everything to prevent a recurrence,” he said in a video statement.

Bodies sent to Rafah

The bodies of the seven aid workers were taken to Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, near the border with Egypt.

Medics prepare the bodies of World Central Kitchen workers for their return to their home countries.

Medics prepare the bodies of World Central Kitchen workers for their return to their home countries.Credit: Getty

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The remains of the six foreign aid workers, including Frankcom, were prepared for repatriation and passed the Rafah crossing into Egypt on Wednesday. Abu Taha, the Palestinian worker, was buried in Rafah, his home town.

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