02 April 2024

Senior Tory MP calls for investigation after Briton killed in Gaza air strike

02 April 2024

A senior Conservative MP has called for a “thorough and swift investigation” after a British national was among seven aid workers killed in an air strike in Gaza.

The aid workers – who were from the United Kingdom, Australia, Poland, Palestine and a dual citizen of the US and Canada – were killed while travelling in a “deconflicted zone”, a non-profit organisation (NGO) said in a statement.

World Central Kitchen (WCK) claimed the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) carried out the strike despite the NGO “co-ordinating” its movements with the military.

Alicia Kearns, chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, told the PA news agency on Tuesday: “My heart goes out to all those whose lives have been lost working to reduce the suffering of others, the news is heartbreaking and protection of humanitarian workers is fundamental.

“There needs to be a thorough and swift investigation as to how this happened and what impact it will have on the ability of the maritime corridor to function given it is World Central Kitchen who were receiving and distributing the desperately needed aid.

“There is also still no explanation for the bombing of the Medical Aid for Palestine complex in a safe zone, which had also been deconflicted directly with the IDF in January, which four British doctors fortunately survived.

“Humanitarian agencies must be given the assurances they need that their people will be protected.”

The convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tonnes of humanitarian food aid taken to Gaza on the maritime route, WCK said.

The aid workers reportedly travelled in two armoured cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft-skin vehicle.

WCK immediately suspended operations in the region.

A Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) spokesperson said it was aware of reports a British national was killed and was “urgently seeking further information”.

WCK chief executive Erin Gore said in a statement: “This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organisations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war.

“This is unforgivable.

“I am heartbroken and appalled that we – World Central Kitchen and the world – lost beautiful lives today because of a targeted attack by the IDF.

“The love they had for feeding people, the determination they embodied to show that humanity rises above all and the impact they made in countless lives will forever be remembered and cherished.”

WCK’s founder, celebrity chef Jose Andres, said in a post on X: “Today @WCKitchen lost several of our sisters and brothers in an IDF air strike in Gaza.

“I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family. These are people … angels … I served alongside in Ukraine, Gaza, Turkey, Morocco, Bahamas, Indonesia. They are not faceless … they are not nameless.

“The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing. It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon. No more innocent lives lost.

“Peace starts with our shared humanity. It needs to start now.”

The IDF says it is “carrying out an in-depth examination at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident”.

Footage on social media showed the bodies of the dead, with several of them dressed in protective gear bearing the charity’s logo, along with their passports.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his government had requested an explanation from Israel of how the incident occurred.

Mr Albanese said Israel’s ambassador to Australia Amir Maimon was asked to call Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and explain how 44-year-old Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom, from Melbourne, came to be killed.

He told reporters: “This is someone who was volunteering overseas to provide aid through this charity for people who are suffering tremendous deprivation in Gaza. And this is just completely unacceptable.”

According to a statement issued to The Guardian by Ms Frankcom’s family, she died “doing the work she loves”.

“We are deeply mourning the news that our brave and beloved Zomi has been killed doing the work she loves, delivering food to the people of Gaza.”

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