World Central Kitchen identifies seven workers killed in Gaza strike

One of the ambulances carrying the bodies of staff members of the U.S.-based aid group World Central Kitchen arrives at the Rafah crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI
1 of 4 | One of the ambulances carrying the bodies of staff members of the U.S.-based aid group World Central Kitchen arrives at the Rafah crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

April 3 (UPI) -- U.S. food aid charity World Central Kitchen identified the seven members of its staff killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, amid growing international condemnation over the attack.

Six of those killed when their convoy was hit were foreign nationals including dual U.S.-Canadian Jacob Flickinger, 33, Britons John Chapman, 57, James Henderson, 33, and James Kirby, 47, Australian Lalzawmi Frankcom, 43, and Polish national Damian Sobol, 35, WCK said in a news release Tuesday.


Palestinian Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, aged 25, was the sixth victim.


CEO Erin Gore described the slain workers as "the heroes of World Central Kitchen."

"These 7 beautiful souls were killed by the IDF in a strike as they were returning from a full day's mission. Their smiles, laughter, and voices are forever embedded in our memories. And we have countless memories of them giving their best selves to the world," Gore said.

"We are reeling from our loss. The world's loss."

Arrangements are being made to repatriate the remains of the foreign nationals via Egypt.

The Britons, all ex-marines, were providing security for the marked three-vehicle convoy on Monday as it left Deir al-Balah warehouse in central Gaza where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of food shipped in on a recently established international maritime route from Cyprus.

The convoy was on a designated aid route in a "de-conflicted zone" and WCK had coordinated its movements with the IDF which says the attack was a "tragic" mistake.

Britain summoned the Israeli Ambassador to the Foreign Office for an explanation while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to demand an investigation into what happened.

A Downing Street spokesman said Sunak had told Netanyahu that he was "appalled" by the killing of aid workers, including three Britons, and demanded a "thorough and transparent independent investigation."


"The prime minister said far too many aid workers and ordinary civilians have lost their lives in Gaza and the situation is increasingly intolerable," the spokesman said.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has apologized and Netanyahu pledged to pursue the truth "to the end" to ensure it could never happen again, but said bad things happen in wars.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he condemned the attack.

"Appalled by the killing by the Israeli Defence Forces of seven members of WCK in Gaza. We urge a thorough investigation. Despite all the demands to protect civilians and humanitarian workers, we see new innocent casualties," he wrote on X.

"We recall the Israeli obligation under International Humanitarian Law to protect humanitarian workers."

U.S. President Joe Biden expressed his anger and shock, saying it should not have happened and slamming Israel for exacerbating the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza by failing to do enough to protect aid workers.

"I am outraged and heartbroken by the deaths of seven humanitarian workers from World Central Kitchen, including one American, in Gaza yesterday. They were providing food to hungry civilians in the middle of a war. They were brave and selfless. Their deaths are a tragedy, Biden said in a statement.


"Israel has pledged to conduct a thorough investigation into why the aid workers' vehicles were hit by airstrikes. That investigation must be swift, it must bring accountability, and its findings must be made public."

Biden added that tragically, the incident was not the first saying the conflict had been "one of the worst in recent memory" in terms of the number of aid workers killed.

He said he had spoken to "his friend," WCK founder and U.S. celebrity chef Jose Andres to offer his condolences and support.

In an op-ed in Wednesday's New York Times, Andres decried the killings of people he said were "the best."

"The seven people killed on a WCK mission in Gaza on Monday were the best of humanity. They are not faceless or nameless. They are not generic aid workers or collateral damage in war," he wrote.

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