Durbin Reiterates Ceasefire Call Following the Death of Seven Humanitarian Aid Workers in Gaza

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin honored the World Central Kitchen workers who were killed while providing support to people in Gaza experiencing a humanitarian crisis

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today delivered a speech on the Senate floor in response to the death of seven aid workers in Gaza earlier this month.  The aid workers, employees of World Central Kitchen, had been part of efforts to feed innocent civilians in Gaza caught in the crossfire of Israel’s military response following the horrendous Hamas attack on October 7.  Since the October 7 attack on Israel, more than 33,000 people, mostly women and children, having been killed in Gaza.

In his remarks, Durbin shared his admiration for World Central Kitchen’s mission, as well as the efforts of its employees, including those who died while providing aid in Gaza. 

“Last week, we saw another tragedy in Gaza – an attack that killed seven people delivering desperately needed, life-saving humanitarian aid.  The victims were employees of World Central Kitchen, an amazing organization run by an extraordinary individual, José Andrés.  They started to feed people in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and have continued since in some of the most challenging parts of the world,” Durbin began.

“Andrés’ innovative and courageous team has been helping people in Gaza since the crisis began in October, providing critical food to millions of innocents caught in the conflict,” said Durbin.  “I always have admired his ingenuity and tenacity in taking on these truly life-saving operations for those most in need.  Mr. Andrés is truly a hero.  My heart goes out to him and the families of those on his team who were recklessly and avoidably killed last week, adding to the more than 200 aid workers who have been killed in Gaza.”

Durbin then spoke about the continued stream of intense and devastating impacts of the crisis.

“We have seen a series of seemingly cascading crises in this conflict.  The list keeps growing:  October 7 – the Hamas attack on Israel that killed 1,200 and took more than 200 people hostage.  The widespread destruction, loss of civilian life, and growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza amid Israel’s response lacks any long-term strategy and is made worse by Hamas’ hiding among civilians.  The continued holding of Israeli hostages, including one with ties to our home state of Illinois, by Hamas and Hamas’ refusal to accept a ceasefire in exchange fortheir release.  The bewildering and inexcusable failure of Israel to set up deconfliction mechanisms for adequate aid delivery.  The failure to recognize that a massive military-only response by Israel will never provide a long-term path to stability and end the violence,” Durbin said.

Durbin continued, expressing his support for a two-state solution even if that necessitates new leadership in both Israel and Palestine.

“I have long said that I do not think the current Israeli or Palestinian leadership is really up to the challenge needed to bring hope, stability, or a viable two-state solution to the region,” Durbin said. 

Durbin also emphasized that Israel must learn from the U.S. mistakes following the terrorist attacks on 9/11 in responding to Hamas’ attacks.

“Early in the conflict, I cautioned Israelis not be blinded by their pain from October 7 and make the same types of mistakes we made after September 11 – a warning I believe their current leadership in Israel has failed to heed,” Durbin said. 

Durbin concluded his speech by reiterating his call for a ceasefire that includes the release of hostages.  Durbin first called for a ceasefire deal to be reached between Israel and Hamas in exchange for a release of hostages and aid to Palestinians on November 2.

“Chef Andrés made a similar point, with which I agree, that Israel’s strategy in Gaza is futile and indefensible with so much innocent loss of human life,” said Durbin.

“I have long called for a ceasefire that includes the release of the remaining hostages, as well as a sustained, U.S.-led Gaza relief operation that includes food, medicine, and other critical basics.  The inexcusable deaths of the World Central Kitchen staff in Gaza are reminders that these steps are needed now more than ever,” Durbin concluded.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here for TV Stations.