Australian among five World Central Kitchen workers reportedly killed in Israeli airstrike in Gaza

At least five employees from the World Central Kitchen (WCK) non-governmental organisation, including foreigners, were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza, the Hamas-run Gaza government media office said late on Monday.

Those killed in the incident in central Gaza's Deir al-Balah included citizens of Poland, Australia and Britain, as well as one Palestinian, a spokesman for the media office said.

"We are aware of reports that members of the World Central Kitchen team have been killed in an IDF attack while working to support our humanitarian food delivery efforts in Gaza," WCK posted on X. "This is a tragedy. Humanitarian aid workers and civilians should NEVER be a target. EVER."

Commenting on the reports, the Israeli military said it was conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this "tragic" incident.

"The IDF makes extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, and has been working closely with WCK in their vital efforts to provide food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza," the military statement said.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a radio interview with state broadcaster ABC the country's foreign ministry was "urgently investigating" the reports.

"I'm very concerned about the loss of life that is occurring in Gaza," he said. "My government has supported a sustainable ceasefire with call for the release of hostages, and there have been far too many innocent lives of Palestinians and Israelis lost during the Gaza Hamas conflict."

Video obtained by Reuters showed paramedics moving bodies into a hospital and displaying the passports of three of those killed.

The WCK delivers food relief and prepares meals for people in need. It said last month it had served more than 42 million meals in Gaza over 175 days.

Chef Jose Andres started the WCK in 2010 by sending cooks and food to Haiti after an earthquake. The organization has since delivered food for communities hit by natural disasters, refugees at the U.S. border, healthcare workers during the COVID pandemic and people in conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

In their most recent post from Monday on X, the WCK said its teams mobilize across Gaza daily to distribute food to displaced Palestinians.

"Our 60+ kitchens in southern and central Gaza are cooking hundreds of thousands of meals each day like this mujadara, a comforting dish of rice, lentils, and caramelized onions," it said.

In a statement, the Islamist group Hamas said the attack on the WCK staff by Israel aimed to "terrorize" workers of international humanitarian agencies and deter them from pursuing their missions.