Israeli Airstrike Kills Three Contractors in Gaza

Officials said Israeli forces mistakenly attacked a World Central Kitchen relief convoy. The airstrike killed seven WCF employees, including three people in the security detail.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday Israel mistakenly killed seven people working for the aid charity. Israel’s military voiced “sincere sorrow” over the incident, which ratcheted up international pressure for steps to ease the disastrous humanitarian situation in Gaza nearly six months into Israel’s siege and invasion of the Palestinian enclave.

WCK, founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres, said its staff were traveling in two armored cars emblazoned with the charity’s logo and another vehicle and had coordinated their movements with the Israeli military.

Collateral Effects of the Israel-Hamas War

At this point (May 2024), both sides in this conflict probably feel like their backs are against the wall. That is largely why Hamas fired the first shots in October 2023. Now, Israel knows that international support for its aggressive military campaign is waning. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and both sides are desperate.

Now, as the war drags on and a ceasefire seems increasingly improbable, contractors throughout the region are at risk.

  • West Bank: Almost immediately after the Gaza War started, armed conflict began in the simmering West Bank. In October 2023, an Israeli airstrike on a mosque compound, which according to the IDF was a Hamas hub, killed two people and injured three others. Steady West Bank violence continued until January 2024 but has tapered off since then.
  • Red Sea: Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen have launched ballistic missiles and drones against Israel. They’ve also threatened to hijack commercial ships from Israel or Israeli sympathizers. Chillingly, Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi called this development a “global issue” and that Israel is “giving the world some time to organize in order to prevent this.” If no such action is forthcoming, he said the country would “act in order to remove this naval siege.”
  • Iraq: In response to United States support for Israel in the Israel–Hamas war, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq has launched a coordinated series of more than 130 attacks on U.S. military bases and assets in Syria and Iraq. Furthermore, since November 2023, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed responsibility for drone and missile attacks against targets within Israel in retaliation for Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

The war has had collateral diplomatic effects as well. In 2023 before the conflict, Israel and Saudi Arabia were reported to be working on normalizing relations. These talks have since ceased. In 2022 and 2023, the Biden administration was making nominal progress on restoring some components of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known in the West as the “Iran nuclear deal.” These talks have not resumed since the conflict began.

Security Contractors

As the above tragedy in Gaza shows, security contractors are always on the front lines, regardless of their duties. 

Some private military contractors who do security work are former military servicemembers. But most are former law enforcement officers. These individuals are more well-suited for the primary duties of a security contractor, which are:

  • Personal Protection: Quite contrary to the image portrayed in TV and movies, most law enforcement officers never pull their guns. Many never even reach for them. Volatile areas like Gaza need this kind of security officer. With so many missiles and bullets flying, the last thing this region needs is more violence. Former police officers know how to use the intimidation factor.
  • Facility Protection: State Department and other employees must feel safe when they go to work, but they must not feel like they are on lockdown. Security contractors know how to strike that balance. They are friendly to the right people and menacing to the wrong people. Furthermore, as mentioned, they do not exclusively rely on firearms.
  • Intelligence Gathering: Security contractors build relationships with local residents. As a result, residents are more likely to come forward with important information. These residents are also less likely to give aid and comfort to militants, and even less likely to join these groups.

Other security contractor duties include passive security (night watchman) and maintaining cameras, fences, and other security equipment, and increasingly, online security. 

Q once boasted that he could do more damage in his pajamas before his first cup of Earl Gray than Bond could do in a year. He probably was not exaggerating.

Contractor Injuries

Regardless of their duties, and regardless of whether anyone challenges the system, private military contractor security work is dangerous.

Simple theft is a potentially violent crime. During their getaways, thieves do not mind their manners or drive defensively. They push people out of their way and drive recklessly. Airstrokes, like the one in the above story, are an even bigger threat. During all-out extermination campaigns, many nations and rebels  act on flimsy intelligence or, even worse, shoot first and ask questions later.

Nighttime falls are a risk as well. That is especially true if the victim recently changed work schedules or recently arrived in-country. Severe fatigue affects judgment and motor skills almost as much as alcohol intoxication.

Contractors are often involved in shootouts as well. Actually, in most cases, contractors are caught in the crossfire of shootouts. American law limits private military contractors to defensive operations, like the aforementioned security functions, although they can certainly use force to defend themselves.


Injury Compensation Available

A Defense Base Act lawyer can obtain compensation for lost wages and medical expenses, if a deployment-related incident substantially caused the worker’s illness or injury.

The process usually begins with a settlement conference. We use the term loosely, because very few claims settle at this point, and the “conference” is somewhat one-sided. 

Few claims are settled because all evidence is not available at this early point. Existing medical records usually do not include the need for future medical treatment. If the settlement fails to account for these costs, victims are normally financially responsible for them.

Additionally, insurance companies normally make take-it-or-leave-it offers at the settlement conference, mostly because most victims don’t have a Defense Base Act lawyer.

Therefore, most claims settle later in the process, when all evidence is available and an attorney can fully advocate for victims.

For more information about DBA eligibility, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.