What the Killing of World Central Kitchen Workers Should Mean for US Aid to Israel

By Madeleine Cereghino- Director of Government Relations

The tragic and avoidable killing of seven World Central Kitchen workers on Monday has underscored the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the significant obstacles faced by relief efforts due to the actions of the Israeli government. While the IDF and Prime Minister Netanyahu have offered apologies for the airstrikes, labeling them as mistakes made by commanders in the field, José Andrés (the founder of World Central Kitchen) has asserted that the relief workers were deliberately targeted by the Israeli military.

President Biden has issued his strongest condemnation of Israel's conduct since the start of the war, including calling Israel’s failure to safeguard civilians and aid workers "a major reason why distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza has been so difficult” and saying that” Israel has also not done enough to protect civilians."

This tragedy occurred just one week after the United States made the preliminary determination that Israel is in compliance with National Security Memorandum (NSM-20). NSM-20 mandates that countries receiving US security assistance provide 'credible and reliable written assurances' that they will 'facilitate and not arbitrarily deny, restrict, or otherwise impede, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery' of US and US-supported humanitarian assistance.

Throughout the course of the conflict, the Israeli government has consistently restricted and severely limited the number of humanitarian aid trucks, imposed arbitrary and contradictory criteria for Israel’s inspection mechanisms, and interfered with or created obstacles to the delivery of aid, including the failure to protect humanitarian staff from bombardment and other dangers. Gaza now faces the threat of widespread famine. By impeding the delivery of humanitarian aid and by targeting and ignoring the safety of aid workers, the Israeli government has rendered Israel ineligible for the continued delivery of US offensive weapons.

The United States must make its final determination on the credibility and reliability of Israel’s assurances on May 8. Members of Congress from both the House and the Senate have called for the administration to acknowledge that the Netanyahu government is not in fact in compliance with NSM-20 and cease the delivery of non-defensive weapons systems to Israel. 

We at Americans for Peace Now support aid to Israel, but we do so as long as it is in compliance with American policy and aligned with American values. Sadly, that is now not the case.