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Lunedì, 20 Maggio 2024
The tragedy / Israele

Why Israel killed the seven humanitarian workers in Gaza: the three theories

A preliminary report from Tel Aviv suggests it was a tragic case of "misidentification." But doubts linger. And some argue it was a deliberate attack to halt aid to the civilian population

Tragic case of "misidentification." An act of disobedience by a group of soldiers to their superiors' orders. Or perhaps a deliberate act to send a message to humanitarian organizations and ensure that civilians in Gaza can "continue to starve in silence." In the aftermath of the Israeli army's attack on the World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid convoy, which was transporting food supplies to the Strip and resulted in seven casualties, there remain numerous doubts about what really happened. The EU Commission has called for "a thorough investigation," while US President Joe Biden emphasized that it was not an isolated incident. Currently, there are at least three circulating hypotheses, only one of which is official from Tel Aviv. However, it does not delve into specifics.

What we know so far

As mentioned, seven humanitarian workers of various nationalities were killed in the attack. The youngest was merely 25 years old. The convoy had reached Gaza via a vessel from OpenArms, facilitated through the maritime corridor established by the European Union. It was transporting food provisions collected by WCK, an organization founded by the renowned Spanish chef José Andrés. The operational arrangements had been duly coordinated with the Israeli authorities, and as per a statement from WCK, senior army officials were kept abreast of the volunteers' movements on a continuous basis. On the fateful day, the volunteers were traversing in three vehicles near Deir el-Balah, having unloaded 100 tons of food aid.

At least one of the vehicles, as shown in circulating media images, prominently displayed the organization's logo on the roof to be visible to drones and IDF satellites. However, despite all these precautions and international support for sending food to a population grappling with severe famine, the convoy was struck at several points by missiles launched from a drone. How could this have happened?

Israel's official version

Just hours after the deadly attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to it as a "tragic incident," emphasizing that such events occur "in times of war" and that his government will "do everything possible to ensure this does not happen again." Several international media outlets, such as the Spanish newspaper El Pais, have highlighted how the seven WCK members killed on April 2 are just the latest in a list of about 200 humanitarian workers who have died since the start of the war in Gaza.

Netanyahu's version, however, received initial confirmation from the Israeli army's preliminary report: the IDF explained that the attack was not "intended to harm humanitarian workers" but was launched due to a "misidentification" of the convoy that occurred "at night, during a war, in very complex conditions."

Previously, some IDF sources cited in the Israeli press claimed that the target was a Hamas militant who, according to their information, had boarded a vehicle in the convoy. The IDF will now continue its investigations, the results of which are expected in the coming days. However, some leaks open the door to theories that contradict the notion of a simple "tragic mistake."

Rebellious soldiers

Internal sources within the IDF, as reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, attribute the attack to an operational decision made on the ground by some soldiers in defiance of orders from above: "The humanitarian workers died because commanders on the ground acted against orders," writes Haaretz. The raid, it continues, "was the result of a lack of discipline by commanders on the ground, and not due to coordination problems between the army and the humanitarian organization." According to IDF sources cited by the Israeli daily, "the commanders and forces involved acted contrary to orders and instructions." This wouldn't be the first time it has happened: in recent months, an internal investigation by the Israeli army had already highlighted soldiers' failure to obey orders from superiors during operations in Gaza.

The theory of the deliberate attack

A third theory is also circulating, although it remains speculative at this point due to a lack of concrete evidence: Israel allegedly targeted the humanitarian convoy intentionally. "Knowing how Israel operates, my assessment is that Israeli forces intentionally killed WCK workers so that donors would would pull out and civilians in Gaza could continue to be starved quietly. Israel knows Western countries and most Arab countries won't move a finger for the Palestinians," wrote Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine, on X. 

Marwan Bishara, a political analyst for Al Jazeera, echoed similar sentiments, asserting that the raid appeared to be "clearly intentional and possibly premeditated." Bishara suggested that the objective of the attack was to obstruct the flow of aid to the people of Gaza, within the broader context of what he described as Israel's pursuit of "ethnic cleansing."

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Why Israel killed the seven humanitarian workers in Gaza: the three theories

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