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IDF Commander Who Oversaw WCK Strike Previously Called for Gaza Aid Blockade

Israel’s probe into the strike that killed seven aid workers was led by the CEO of an Israeli weapons manufacturer.

A Palestinian inspects near a vehicle where employees from the World Central Kitchen were killed in an Israeli airstrike, in Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, on April 2, 2024.

An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commander who was a senior figure in the execution of the drone strike on a World Central Kitchen (WCK) convoy that killed seven workers last week had previously signed a letter calling for humanitarian aid to Gaza to be restricted — at a time when Israel was already blocking the vast majority of aid at the border.

According to The Telegraph, IDF Colonel Nochi Mandel signed an open letter “calling for [Gaza] to be deprived of aid,” as the Telegraph wrote, and demanding a “siege” of Gaza City in January. Mandel, who The Telegraph identifies as a “religious nationalist” and a resident of a settlement in the occupied West Bank, was one of two IDF officers dismissed after the WCK strike as Israel faced pressure from international leaders over the killing of the workers, one of whom was a U.S. citizen.

The letter asked the Israeli War Cabinet and the IDF chief of staff to “do everything in your power” to block “humanitarian supplies and operations of hospitals inside Gaza City.”

“As far as we understand … it is permissible and legal according to the laws of armed conflict, to impose a siege on a certain area, on the condition that the citizens who are in it are allowed evacuation corridors,” the letter said, according to the Telegraph. The letter was written in Hebrew.

Mandel’s signing of the letter reinforces concerns that the IDF purposefully attacked the aid convoy. Humanitarian groups have been saying for months that the IDF has been attacking them intentionally, with numerous reports finding vast amounts of evidence that targeting aid is a goal of the IDF. The letter signing also potentially undercuts Israel’s narrative that the attack was done in error; notably, the findings of the IDF’s own probe into the strike are riddled with inconsistencies.

The IDF concluded its investigation into the WCK strike last week, just four days after the killings occurred. It found that its own soldiers had made a mistake and believed that the convoy was filled with “Hamas terrorists.”

However, WCK had cleared the passage of the convoy with the IDF ahead of time, as other humanitarian aid groups have done in Gaza, meaning that the IDF was aware that the convoy was coming through. Further, pictures and video of the convoys show that the group’s logo was present on all sides of the car — including the top of the car, which was visible from the drones. The IDF had reportedly been tracking the convoy for at least hours, and potentially days, as it traveled through Gaza.

“I think it’s inconceivable that the IDF wasn’t aware that the three vehicles were being driven by the WCK aid workers,” Charlie Herbert, a British army officer who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, told the Telegraph. “I cannot comprehend how they could have mistaken them for anything else, and if there was uncertainty, the strike shouldn’t have gone ahead.”

Further undermining the findings of the investigation is the fact that it was conducted by the president and CEO of one of Israel’s largest weapons manufacturers, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, whose largest client is the IDF. The company is led by Yoav Har-Even, a former major general for the IDF.

Weapons manufacturers have a vested interest in the continuation of the IDF’s genocide in Gaza, as companies that have supplied munitions and arms to Israeli forces have seen a rise in profits and share value over the last months.

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