Press Release

US NGO worker killed in Israeli Airstrike

Mousa Shawwa

Protecting Humanitarian Workers is Vital for Gaza’s Aid Distribution

March 9, 2024 | Washington, DC –Yesterday, March 8, Mousa Shawwa, Anera’s logistics coordinator in Gaza, was killed by an Israeli strike despite the fact the coordinates of his shelter had been provided for the purpose of protecting him on several occasions, including just days before the attack.

Shawwa was sheltering with his extended family in Deir Al Balah and had just returned from distributing humanitarian aid at 4:00 pm when the attack happened. He was still wearing his Anera jacket and was killed in the airstrike along with an estimated 30 to 50 others. His wife and two of his children suffered moderate injuries. His youngest son, six-year-old Karim, is in critical condition and needs to be evacuated.

Shawwa is at least the fifth member of an American humanitarian aid organization killed in this war in Gaza. In the months, weeks, and days leading up to the attack, Anera shared with COGAT (Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) the coordinates of our staff, office and distribution center locations in a good faith effort to maintain the safety of our staff. This attack is a clear, undeniable case of deconfliction not working and it threatens our team’s ability to keep functioning.

Anera has been the key “boots on the ground,” “last-mile” delivery partner in Gaza for more than 40 other organizations since the war’s onset. Our efforts have provided nearly 20 million meals, over 3 million medical treatments, and essential water and shelter supplies. The United Nations reports that all children under five in the Gaza Strip—335,000—are at high risk of severe malnutrition and preventable death as the risk of famine conditions continues to increase. The UN also reports that one in six infants in northern Gaza is acutely malnourished.

The killing of Mousa Shawwa occurred just hours after US President Joe Biden’s State of the Union in which he warned Israel’s leaders that “humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip.” In the address, Biden announced an American-led emergency mission to establish a temporary port on the coast of Gaza “that can receive large shipments carrying food, water, medicine and temporary shelters.” If Israel continues to target humanitarian workers, who is going to be left in Gaza to distribute the aid that President Biden is promising?

National Security Memorandum-20, issued by the White House on February 8, 2024, requires the Secretary of State to receive written assurances from any government receiving US military assistance that it “will facilitate and not arbitrarily deny, restrict, or otherwise impede, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance and United States Government-supported international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance.” To date, the government of Israel has not provided these written assurances.

Humanitarian organizations such as Anera are protected by international law and the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice on January 26, 2024. We must be able to ensure that our staff can do their jobs without risking their lives and the lives of their families. Anera demands an independent investigation into the death of Mousa Shawwa, which underscores the urgent need for accountability and reliable measures to ensure the safety of aid workers. Without decisive action to safeguard humanitarian workers, the promise of aid, including President Biden’s commitment, are futile.

It is imperative that Israel and all parties involved uphold their obligations under international law to safeguard humanitarian workers and ensure unimpeded access to aid for those in need.


***Anera President and CEO Sean Carroll is available for interviews. ***
Please contact Anera Media Relations Officer Steve Fake at [email protected] to make arrangements.


About Anera
Since 1968, Anera has helped refugees and others hurt by conflicts in the Middle East live with dignity and purpose. Anera, which has no political or religious affiliation, works on the ground with partners in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, Lebanon, and Jordan. We mobilize resources for immediate humanitarian relief and for sustainable health, education, and economic development efforts. Our staff are from the communities they serve, navigating the politics that constrict progress to get help where it’s needed most. We will keep building better lives until hope finds its way in the Middle East.