World Central Kitchen worker killed in Israeli airstrike was a dedicated humanitarian, friends say

World Central Kitchen is pausing operations in Gaza after seven of its workers were killed by an Israeli airstrike.

The nonprofit founded by celebrity chef José Andrés confirmed the deaths overnight Tuesday in a statement, saying the team was traveling in a deconflicted zone in two armored cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle.

"Despite coordinating movements with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route," the statement read in part. "This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable."

According to World Central Kitchen, the seven people killed were from Australia, Poland, United Kingdom, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada and Palestine.

Bryan Weaver of D.C. said the victim from Australia was his friend, Zomi Frankcom.


According to Weaver, Frankcom has been with World Central Kitchen since 2018.

"She traveled the globe and sort of gave a little bit of humanity to people in their worst moments," Weaver told FOX 5 Tuesday. "I don’t think she met a stranger in all the time I knew her. Every time she met someone, it was like…suddenly you went from ‘I just met you’ to ‘you’re family.'"


7 World Central Kitchen workers killed in Israeli airstrike; food charity halts operations in Gaza

World Central Kitchen, the food charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, has suspended operations in the Gaza region after an Israeli airstrike killed seven members of their team on Monday.

Weaver, who has been involved with D.C. non-profits for years, said he met Frankcom in Guatemala when she was volunteering with World Central Kitchen a few years ago. Since then, the two have grown to become close friends. She would visit D.C. for training with World Central Kitchen.

"The thing that made her really special is, when she was getting a plate of food to someone in probably the worst moment of their lives, she presented it with a sense of humanity. With a grin that would be larger than life," he said. "The greatest loss is, there is not a lot of people in the world who have that ability to just connect with someone at their worst moment and not have it be like, ‘We’re going to try and give as many of these meals out as possible.' Just give someone a sense of humanity, a bit of a hug in a moment that’s their absolute worst."

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Frankcom always had a positive attitude and a beaming smile despite having seen the worst of situations, Weaver added.

"A lot of people are going to be left with a Zomi-shaped hole in their hearts after this," he said. "The amount of tragedy and death she was surrounded with all the time, that she was able to … to the very end … be embodied with the best of ourselves, the best nature of humanity is something that is really amazing."

Following initial reports Monday evening, the IDF released a statement saying the forces would conduct "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".

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the deadly airstrike, calling the event "tragic" in his statement which was delivered shortly after he was discharged from the hospital following hernia surgery.

"Unfortunately, on the last day, there was a tragic event of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people in the Gaza Strip," Netanyahu said. "This happens in war; we are checking thoroughly, we are in contact with the governments, and we will do everything to prevent this from happening again."

WCK’s CEO Erin Gore said she was ‘heartbroken and appalled’ over the workers’ deaths.

"The love they had for feeding people, the determination they embodied to show that humanity rises above all, and the impact they made in countless lives will forever be remembered and cherished," Gore said in a statement.

The statement ended with WCK’s intention of making decisions about the future of their work in Gaza "soon."