Three British aid workers killed in Israeli strike in Gaza named

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John Chapman, James Henderson and James Kirby were among the seven World Central Kitchen workers killed in Monday's strike

Three British aid workers have been killed in an Israeli strike in Gaza.

John Chapman, 57, James Henderson, 33, and James Kirby, 47, were among the seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers killed in Monday's strike.

Humanitarian aid to Gaza has been plunged into doubt after WCK, a key provider of aid to the Strip, suspended its operations in the region.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the deaths "appalled" him. Israel said the strike was "unintended".

The British nationals, all part of WCK's security team, were travelling with a convoy that had just unloaded more than 100 tonnes of much-needed food aid brought from overseas, according to the charity.

All three vehicles in the convoy were hit by an Israeli air strike while leaving a warehouse in Deir al-Balah, south of Gaza City.

Seven aid workers were killed in the strike. As well as the three Britons, Australian national Lalzawmi Frankcom, Polish national Damian Sobol, Palestinian Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutahas and US-Canadian citizen Jacob Flickinger, were also killed.

The convoy was made up of three vehicles, including two that were armoured, which clearly displayed the charity's logo

Paying tribute to the victims, WCK chief executive Erin Gore said she was "heartbroken and appalled" at the "beautiful lives" lost in the attack.

The charity's founder, celebrity chef José Andrés, said the victims were "angels" and called on Israel to stop its "indiscriminate killing".

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The strike has received international condemnation, with the UK summoning the Israeli ambassador over the deaths - the first time this has happened in 12 years.

Prime Minister Mr Sunak demanded an investigation in a call with Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Sunak said on the call that "far too many aid workers and ordinary civilians have lost their lives in Gaza" and that the situation is "increasingly intolerable".

The scale of the attack prompted former national security adviser Lord Peter Ricketts to tell the BBC that the UK should stop selling arms to Israel. "I think the time has come to send that signal," he said.

"I think there's abundant evidence now that Israel hasn't been taking enough care to fulfil its obligations on the safety of civilians."

Lord Ricketts said halting arms sales would send a "powerful political message" that might spark debate about the US following suit, which would be "the real game changer".

US President Joe Biden said he was "outraged and heartbroken" by the WCK workers' deaths.

He said Israel had "not done enough to protect civilians" in an emphatic shift from his previous call that Israel "must do more" to protect the lives of aid workers in Gaza.

Biden 'outraged' over Israel strike on World Central Kitchen staff

Israeli prime minister Mr Netanyahu released a video message on Tuesday in which he said Israeli forces were behind the "tragic" attack.

"It happens in war, we check it to the end, we are in contact with the governments, and we will do everything so that this thing does not happen again," he said.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it was conducting a "thorough review" into what it called a "tragic incident".

In a separate statement, IDF chief of general staff Herzi Halevi said the strike "was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers".

"It was a mistake that followed a misidentification at night during a war in very complex conditions. It shouldn't have happened," he added.

But WCK chief executive Ms Gore called the strike a "targeted attack by the IDF".

Arrangements are being made to transport the bodies of the six foreigners to Egypt via the Rafah border crossing.

US-based organisation WCK aims to provide meals in humanitarian crises. The charity said it had served 42 million meals over 175 days in Gaza - working out at roughly 240,000 per day.

Last month the charity was part of the first maritime humanitarian aid shipment mission to Gaza.

A shipment of 240 tonnes of food, which was just off the coast of Gaza, has been forced to return to Cyprus as there was no way to offload it.

An unnamed UN official told BBC News the aid worker deaths were either a "dreadful failure of deconfliction", or evidence that the existing system was not fit for purpose.

Deconfliction is a system allowing aid organisations to work in warzones. It involves notifying military powers where aid organisations are working and when they are on the move.

World Central Kitchen says those killed were part of a convoy that was travelling from a warehouse in central Gaza

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described the air strike as "outrageous and unacceptable", and called for humanitarian workers to be protected and international law to be upheld.

Much of the Gaza Strip has been devastated during the Israeli military operations that began after Hamas gunmen attacked southern Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages.

About 130 of the hostages remain in captivity, at least 34 of whom are presumed dead.

More than 32,916 people have been killed in Gaza since then, the Hamas-run health ministry says.

Related Topics

Israel-Gaza war

Rishi Sunak