Derrick Van Orden blames Hamas for deaths of World Central Kitchen workers

Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-WI) is blaming Hamas for the deaths of humanitarian aid workers in Gaza, who died in an Israeli strike, instead of Israel.

On Monday, seven aid workers from Chef Jose Andres’s World Central Kitchen were killed in an airstrike by the Israel Defense Forces. Following the deaths, the World Central Kitchen paused operations in the area and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the situation a “tragic case.”

Van Orden, who spoke to the Washington Examiner on Wednesday from Israel, defended the Jewish state, arguing that war is not a “precise science” and that people who “you do not intend to get killed” will die.

“In no way, shape, or form did Israel target those relief workers,” Van Orden said. “But, everybody needs to remember that there was a ceasefire Oct. 6. It was broken on Oct. 7 by Hamas savages.

“So those aid workers are dead as a direct result of Hamas attacking Israel. Period. End of story. Full stop,” the congressman continued. “Those aid workers would be alive today if Hamas had not attacked Israel on Oct. 7th. That is an undeniable reality.”

The World Central Kitchen team’s movements had been coordinated with the IDF, and the team was “traveling in a deconflicted zone in two armored cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle,” according to a statement from the organization. The workers were Australian, Polish, British, Palestinian, and a dual United States-Canadian citizen.

Several House Democrats have come out in opposition to Israel’s military tactics following news of the airstrike, as the war between Israel and Hamas continues to divide not only the two major political parties but also cause a wedge within the House Democratic Caucus.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said in a statement Tuesday that the “continuing intolerable loss” of innocent Gaza civilians “means that the Netanyahu government is forfeiting and squandering every day its moral standing and the support of the world which existed after the October 7 atrocities perpetrated by Hamas.”

White House officials said Tuesday that President Joe Biden is “heartbroken” by the Israeli airstrike and called for a swift investigation into the attack to bring “accountability.” The president said in a statement that “Israel has also not done enough to protect civilians.”

Some members are calling on the Biden administration to reverse course and rethink its support of providing military aid to Israel. A House Democrat went further to say to Axios that it’s “time to pull the plug on unconditional aid.”

“They have not been good stewards of our money,” the representative said.

Van Orden disagrees.

“People seem to forget that the goal of war is peace,” Van Orden said. “When you do not wage war completely, you wind up with endless war. And the United States, and the UN, and all these other international bodies need to step aside and allow Israel to take care of Hamas.”

The Wisconsin congressman also slammed the Biden administration for what he perceives is walking back on promises to support Israel. Biden has recently taken a harder line on the war, calling for a ceasefire conditioned on the release of Israeli hostages at the beginning of last month. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also ruffled feathers among the GOP after he called for new elections in Israel.

“The Biden administration is proving to not be a friend of Israel, Chuck Schumer has proven to not be a friend to Israel, and that’s a shame — they’re our closest ally in this very troubled region of the world,” Van Orden said.

He said he visited the kibbutz where Hamas orchestrated its attacks and met with the family members of former residents, some of whom were killed on Oct. 7 last year. The attacks resulted in the deaths of nearly 1,200 Israelis, and the subsequent war that has followed has led to the deaths of thousands of Palestinians, mostly civilians.

The Wisconsin congressman also visited the Nova Music Festival site in southern Israel where Hamas terrorists attacked concertgoers. Van Orden had visited the site six months ago, and he said it now serves as an “ad-hoc memorial site.”

The Nova Music Festival grounds in southern Israel are pictured. The site was one of several places Hamas attacked on Oct. 7, 2023. (Credit: Office of Wisconsin Rep. Derrick Van Orden)

He said the idea that lawmakers claim the atrocities Hamas committed did not take place is inexcusable, pointing to comments made by Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) last year. Bowman recently walked back remarks he made in November calling the accusations of sexual assault during Hamas’s attacks “propaganda.”

“The people who are making these gross, exaggerated comments about what didn’t take place here need to get on a plane and come here and see with your eyes, walk through these burned homes,” Van Orden said.

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“When I was here last time, there’s still blood on the walls and they’ve cleaned all that up,” the Wisconsin Republican added. “You can still see the bullet holes and the blast holes in the walls and safe rooms and houses.”

The Washington Examiner reached out to Raskin and Bowman for comment.

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