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Strike in Gaza kills seven aid workers unloading food

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES — A US-based charity said Tuesday it was pausing its Gaza aid operations after seven of its staff were killed in a "targeted Israeli strike" as they unloaded desperately needed food aid delivered by sea from Cyprus.

Monday's deaths came as the Israeli army wrapped up a two-week military operation in and around the Al-Shifa Hospital which reduced the besieged territory's largest medical complex to charred ruins.

"World Central Kitchen is devastated to confirm seven members of our team have been killed in an IDF strike in Gaza," the US-based charity said in a statement.

It said those killed were "from Australia, Poland, United Kingdom, a dual citizen of the US and Canada, and Palestine" and announced that it was "pausing our operations in the region" in response.

The aid group said its team was travelling in a "de-conflicted" area in a convoy of "two armoured cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle" at the time of the strike.

"Despite coordinating movements with the (Israeli army), 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," it said.

The aid had reached Gaza earlier Monday aboard a barge and two salvage vessels which made the crossing from Cyprus in the second run for a much discussed maritime aid corridor from the European Union member state.

The Israeli military said it was "conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident", adding it had been "working closely with WCK" in the effort to provide aid to Palestinians.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed one of the killed aid workers was Australian national Zomi Frankcom. "This is completely unacceptable," Albanese said.

The bodies were taken to a hospital mortuary in the central town of Deir al-Balah, an AFP photographer reported.

One of them was laid on the floor on a makeshift stretcher, still wearing a top clearly emblazoned with the World Central Kitchens name and logo. Three foreign passports lay nearby.

US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said