Poland classifies attack on humanitarian aid workers as murder, demands Israeli cooperation in investigation News
Tasnim News Agency, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Poland classifies attack on humanitarian aid workers as murder, demands Israeli cooperation in investigation

The Polish government on Friday labeled the death of Polish aid worker Damian Soból as murder, following the deaths of seven humanitarian aid workers from the World Central Kitchen (WCK) serving in Gaza resulting from airstrikes conducted by the Israel Defense Force (IDF). Poland has requested Israel’s complete cooperation with their investigation into the incident.

The attack occurred on April 1 during an IDF airstrike. Following the attack, the WCK issued a statement confirming the deaths of seven of its international aid workers including individuals from Poland, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and the US, as well as a Palestinian driver. Classified under international humanitarian law as civilians, they were traveling in two armored vehicles marked with the organization’s logo at the time of the incident. Before the attack, the workers were reportedly unloading 100 tons of humanitarian food aid. 

On Friday, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Władysław Teofil Bartoszewski addressed the Polish parliament, or Sejm, to provide details of Soból’s death. The 35-year-old aid worker’s death was determined to have been caused by the IDF’s airstrikes on Gaza, where Soból and other WCK volunteers were providing humanitarian aid amid the ongoing conflict. Israel previously called the incident a ‘mistake’, resulting from a misidentification. The WCK asserts that its vehicles were clearly marked. 

Following a conversation between Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski and the diplomatic head of the Israeli mission in Poland, Yacov Livne, Israel’s initial response regarding the attacks was deemed insufficient, with President Andrzej Duda demanding Israel adequately compensate the victims’ families. The Polish government later sent a protest note to Ambassador Livne, demanding a transparent and cooperative investigation into the attack. 

The Polish Prosecutors Office also launched an investigation pursuant to Article 148 of the Criminal Code, categorizing the assault on Soból as a homicide. During the subsequent parliamentary debate following Bartoszewski’s speech, several MPs contended that the attack constituted a war crime. MP Maciej Konieczny underscored the deaths of over 200 humanitarian workers in Gaza in the preceding six months alone.

On April 5, the IDF  released a report regarding the attack in which they confirmed the dismissal of two military officers responsible for the airstrikes and discussed the reprimand of the several others involved. Prime Minister Netanyahu stressed that the attack was unintentional, a sentiment which was echoed by the IDF. He also announced the launch of a thorough investigation. 

However, in a subsequent statement by the WCK, the organization once again highlighted the IDF’s failure to distinguish the convoy during the airstrike. It emphasized that access to food, necessities, and medicine is a fundamental human right and underscored the importance of humanitarian aid support in the conflict zone by Israel.

Until further measures are taken to support and ensure the safety of humanitarian aid workers, the WCK has suspended its operations in the region.