Aid groups urge change after 'systematic' Israel attacks on humanitarian efforts in Gaza

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PARIS: The international community must treat the deadly Israeli strike that killed seven humanitarian workers in Gaza as a watershed moment, aid groups say, accusing Israel of "systematic" attacks on civilians and NGOs working there.

Charities told AFP they had no immediate plans to pull out of Gaza after an Israeli air strike killed seven employees of the US-based food charity World Central Kitchen (WCK).

But they said conditions were becoming increasingly impossible, pointing to serious problems with a coordination system that is aimed at keeping aid workers safe from Israeli strikes.

The United Nations says the bloodiest-ever Gaza war has left nearly 200 aid workers dead, including more than 175 members of the UN's staff.

The WCK stressed that its staff had come under attack "despite coordinating movements" with the Israeli army and travelling in a de-conflicted zone in two armoured cars branded with the WCK logo and another vehicle.

"Israel has now killed more aid workers in Gaza than all other armies, militias and terrorists in all other wars combined," said Jan Egeland who heads the Norwegian Refugee Council.

"I deeply hope that this terrible attack will act as some kind of watershed moment, and lead to a change in approach," he said, reiterating calls for a sustained ceasefire.

Bushra Khalidi, Oxfam's policy adviser for the Palestinian territories, said staff have been "terrified" and tried to minimise their movements.

"There's been a deliberate and systematic assault on humanitarian aid efforts, including humanitarian aid workers," she said. "We've seen a systematic disregard for the de-confliction system."

"DEEP CRISIS"

Benjamin Gaudin, who leads the Middle East operations of Premiere Urgence Internationale, a France-based NGO, said his organisation had no immediate plans to pull out even though it was "very difficult" to continue to work in Gaza.

"This attack is catastrophic not only for the World Central Kitchen, but also for the entire humanitarian community," said Gaudin.

Like other relief groups, Gaudin's NGO has been seeking to closely coordinate their movements with Israel through a special "platform" but pointed to communications problems.

"So far it hasn't guaranteed the safety of the organisations...

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