Three British aid workers for World Central Kitchen killed in Gaza

Three British aid workers for World Central Kitchen killed in Gaza
Three British aid workers for World Central Kitchen killed in Gaza
  • By Ian Aikman & Andre Rhoden-Paul
  • BBCNews
2 April 2024, 15:13 BST

Updated 22 minutes ago

Image caption,

World Central Kitchen said seven of their aid workers were killed

Three British aid workers have died in an Israeli air strike in Gaza.

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said the deaths of the seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in the strike were “completely unacceptable” and called on Israel to immediately investigate.

WCK, which has paused its operations in Gaza, said other victims in Monday’s strike were Australian, Polish, Palestinian and a US-Canadian citizen.

Israel said the aid workers were killed by an “unintended strike.”

The team had been leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where it had unloaded food aid, according to the charity.

On Tuesday the UK summoned the Israeli ambassador over the deaths.

Lord Cameron said he had spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz to underline the aid worker deaths were “completely unacceptable”.

“Israel must urgently explain how this happened and make major changes to ensure safety of aid workers on the ground,” he said.

“It is essential that humanitarian workers are protected and able to carry out their work.”

Development minister Andrew Mitchell, who summoned the Israeli ambassador to the UK, said he shared the government’s “unequivocal condemnation” over the aid workers’ deaths.

Reacting to the strike, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said there had been “too many civilian deaths in Gaza” and reiterated his call for an “immediate humanitarian pause so that we can get the hostages out and more aid into the region.”

Image source, EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Image caption,

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

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

“Unfortunately, in the last 24 hours there was a tragic case of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

“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.”

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

But WCK chief executive Erin Gore called the strike a “targeted attack by the IDF.”

Paying tribute to the victims, Ms Gore said she was “heartbroken and appalled” at the “beautiful lives” lost in the attack.

WCK said the charity coordinated their movements with the IDF and the aid workers had been in two cars branded with WCK’s logo and another vehicle.

So far Australian Lalzawmi Frankcom, Polish national Damian Sobol and Palestinian Saif Abu Taha have been named as three of the seven aid workers killed.

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

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

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

An unnamed UN official told BBC News the aid worker deaths were either a “dreadful failure of deconfliction” or evidence the system that exists now is not fit for purpose.

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

Mr Mitchell also called for an “effective deconfliction mechanism immediately and urgently”.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer described the air strike as “outrageous and unacceptable”, as he 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 hostels.

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.

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