Wed. Apr 17th, 2024
alert-–-british-aid-worker-families’-anger-at-israel:-john-chapman’s-relatives-condemn-‘inhumane-act’-after-james-kirby’s-loved-ones’-veiled-swipe-at-idf’s-‘senseless-violence’-after-the-pair-were-killed-in-gaza-drone-strikeAlert – British aid worker families’ anger at Israel: John Chapman’s relatives condemn ‘inhumane act’ after James Kirby’s loved ones’ veiled swipe at IDF’s ‘senseless violence’ after the pair were killed in Gaza drone strike

The family of British special forces soldier John Chapman declared the Israeli drone strike that killed him along with six others in a food aid convoy in Gaza ‘an inhumane act’. 

Former SBS operator Chapman, 57, was killed alongside fellow British military veterans James Kirby, 47, and James Henderson, 33, as they travelled out of Deir al-Balah, south of Gaza City, in clearly marked World Central Kitchen aid trucks. 

‘We are devastated to have lost John, who was killed in Gaza. He died trying to help people and was subject to an inhumane act. He was an incredible father, husband, son and brother,’ a statement from John’s family read. 

‘We request we be given space and time to grieve appropriately. 

‘He was loved by many and will forever be a hero. He will be missed dearly’.

It comes hours after family members of former Army sniper marksman Kirby said they are ‘utterly heartbroken’ by his death as they hit out at the ‘senseless violence’ in Gaza.

‘James understood the dangers of venturing into Gaza, drawing from his experiences in the British Armed Forces, where he bravely served tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan,’ their statement read. 

‘Despite the risks, his compassionate nature drove him to offer assistance to those in dire need.

‘A genuine gentleman, James was always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone, even in the face of senseless violence,’ they said in what appeared to be a thinly-veiled swipe at Israel.

The statement added the family are ‘incredibly proud of who James was and what he achieved,’ and told the world to ‘never stop caring and trying to help people, love will eventually overcome hate.’

Meanwhile, Egyptian state media reported that the bodies of the slain aid workers were today transported across the Rafah border and out of the Gaza Strip to be repatriated. 

John Chapman (pictured) was travelling in a clearly marked car operated by World Central Kitchen (WCK), a charity providing meals to Palestinians in the war-torn enclave, when the convoy was hit with three missiles fired by an IDF drone

John Chapman (pictured) was travelling in a clearly marked car operated by World Central Kitchen (WCK), a charity providing meals to Palestinians in the war-torn enclave, when the convoy was hit with three missiles fired by an IDF drone

James Kirby's family members said they are 'utterly heartbroken' by his death as they hit out at the 'senseless violence' being seen in Gaza

James Kirby’s family members said they are ‘utterly heartbroken’ by his death as they hit out at the ‘senseless violence’ being seen in Gaza

James Kirby has been described as someone who 'put his whole life into protecting others'

James Kirby has been described as someone who ‘put his whole life into protecting others’

James Kirby was among three Brits who were part of a security team for World Food Kitchen

James Kirby was among three Brits who were part of a security team for World Food Kitchen

James Henderson, 33, was travelling in a clearly marked car operated by World Central Kitchen, a charity providing meals to Palestinians in the war torn enclave, when the convoy was hit with three missiles fired by an IDF drone

British aid worker families' anger at Israel: John Chapman's relatives condemn 'inhumane act' after James Kirby's loved ones' veiled swipe at IDF's 'senseless violence' after the pair were killed in Gaza drone strike

British aid worker families’ anger at Israel: John Chapman’s relatives condemn ‘inhumane act’ after James Kirby’s loved ones’ veiled swipe at IDF’s ‘senseless violence’ after the pair were killed in Gaza drone strike

Palestinians inspect a vehicle with the logo of the World Central Kitchen that was wrecked by an Israeli airstrike in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip

Palestinians inspect a vehicle with the logo of the World Central Kitchen that was wrecked by an Israeli airstrike in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip

Israel’s actions have triggered international condemnation, with leaders in the UK, the US, Poland, Canada and – the countries the foreign nationals in the group hailed from – among those calling for accountability. 

Israel has apologised for what it called ‘a grave mistake’ and said it is investigating the incident ‘at the highest levels’ 

Meanwhile, tributes have poured in for the seven aid workers.

James Kirby’s uncle said: ‘Obviously we’re upset at what has happened. I think we realised it was one of the possible dangers of his job though both when he was in the Army and after.

‘This close protection work puts you at risk and he had been in difficult situations before working for other charities.

‘He was an absolute gem. He would always do anything for anyone and go out of his way to do so too.

‘He never really settled down in a traditional way. There were girlfriends of course but no-one special.

‘He had just finished doing up a house in Glastonbury, a renovation project, which he had put on the market.

‘I last saw him in December when he came to my Kate wife’s funeral. He was always there at important family events.

‘He used to live down the road here when his mum and dad were still together. But we’ve lost track of exactly where his father, Marcel, is now.

‘I know my sister Paulette managed to reach him on the phone this morning. She said that as you would expect he was pretty cut up.’

A close friend of Kirby’s, Julie Marshall, also a heartfelt tribute to him on Facebook alongside pictures of them together and with beloved pets.
‘I am absolutely devastated, a man who literally stole my heart who I will never ever forget,’ she wrote. ‘He was the bravest kindest soul with a little mix of crazy. 
‘He put his whole life into protecting others and fighting for what he believed so strongly in. He went through so much yet still had the best humour and kindness.’

Another loved one, Stephen Caple, wrote on Facebook: ‘My cousin, James Kirby, killed in Gaza yesterday working to bring aid to innocent people.

‘I will always be so proud of our family’s HERO. The kindest, funniest and most lovable person. RIP Kirbs.’

Mr Kirby and his fellow Brits all worked for security firm Solace Global. 

A boss at the company told the BBC that the three men were ‘all valued team members, to whom we were very close’ and that it was a ‘tragic loss’.

UK foreign secretary Lord Cameron has welcomed Israel’s promise of an urgent investigation into the deaths, but warned it must happen ‘very, very quickly’.

Britain summoned the Israeli ambassador to London and has demanded ‘full accountability’ over the deaths, which Lord Cameron described as ‘completely unacceptable’.

As well as the mounting Gazan death toll – with more than 32,000 killed, according to the Hamas-run health ministry – an unprecedented number of humanitarian workers have been killed in the conflict.

At least 196 aid workers, including 175 members of the UN staff, have now been killed since October 7, according to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the seven victims in the WCK aid convoy ‘join a record number of humanitarian workers who have been killed in this particular conflict.’ 

People carry the body of one of the foreign workers from the World Central Kitchen (WCK), who were killed in an Israeli airstrike, before they are transported to their families outside Gaza

People carry the body of one of the foreign workers from the World Central Kitchen (WCK), who were killed in an Israeli airstrike, before they are transported to their families outside Gaza

Egyptian state media reported that the bodies of the slain aid workers were today transported across the Rafah border and out of the Gaza Strip to be repatriated

Egyptian state media reported that the bodies of the slain aid workers were today transported across the Rafah border and out of the Gaza Strip to be repatriated

Julie Marshall paid a touching tribute to the British aid worker who died while working for an aid charity

Julie Marshall paid a touching tribute to the British aid worker who died while working for an aid charity

Polish World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid worker Damian Sobol, who was killed in the Israeli airstrike in Gaza

Polish World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid worker Damian Sobol, who was killed in the Israeli airstrike in Gaza

n aid worker Lalzawmi (Zomi) Frankcom, 43, who was among those killed in the strike

n aid worker Lalzawmi (Zomi) Frankcom, 43, who was among those killed in the strike

Palestinian Saifeddine Issam Ayad Abutaha, 25, was part of the WCK team that was killed in the strike

Palestinian Saifeddine Issam Ayad Abutaha, 25, was part of the WCK team that was killed in the strike

American-Canadian Jacob Flickinger, 33, who was one of the seven victims of the strike

American-Canadian Jacob Flickinger, 33, who was one of the seven victims of the strike

In a strongly worded statement, US President Joe Biden said Israel ‘has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians.’ 

He called for a ‘swift’ investigation to bring accountability to what he said was not a ‘stand alone incident’.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the strike ‘unconscionable’ but ‘an inevitable result of the way the war is being conducted’.

‘It demonstrates yet again the urgent need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.’

Professor Ben Saul, UN Special Rapporteur on protecting human rights while countering terrorism, suggested that the killing of the WCK workers could be a war crime.

‘It’s a human tragedy. But, of course, it could well be a violation of international humanitarian law, under which Israel has a duty not to deliberately target humanitarian relief workers or their convoys or their relief consignments,’ he said. 

Lord Cameron warned Israel that Britain will be watching ‘very closely’ to make sure aid flows through Gaza while avoiding such ‘dreadful incidents’ as have been seen in recent days.

The UK government could suspend arms sales to Israel once it has established the all of the facts of the incident, inside sources have reportedly said.

Poland meanwhile said ‘it does not agree to the lack of compliance with international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians, including humanitarian workers’, and demanded compensation for the families of the killed WCK staff.

Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk said today that both the deadly strike and the Israeli government’s reaction to the incident were straining ties between the two countries.

Images of the passports of Mr Chapman and Mr Henderson, which were found at the scene, were shared after their deaths

Images of the passports of Mr Chapman and Mr Henderson, which were found at the scene, were shared after their deaths

Directly addressing Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s envoy to Warsaw, Tusk posted on X: ‘Today, you are putting this solidarity to the test. The tragic attack against volunteers and your reaction are generating an understandable anger.’

Pope Francis has expressed his ‘deep sorrow’ over the deaths during his weekly audience at the Vatican, and said: ‘I pray for them and their families.’

He renewed his appeal for access to humanitarian aid for the ‘exhausted and suffering civilian population’ of Gaza, and for the hostages taken by Hamas to be released.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has held a call with Netanyahu, in which he said he was ‘appalled’ by the killings and demanded a thorough and transparent independent investigation.

A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister spoke to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening.

‘He said he was appalled by the killing of aid workers, including three British nationals, in an air strike in Gaza yesterday and demanded a thorough and transparent independent investigation into what happened.

‘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 UK expects to see immediate action by Israel to end restrictions on humanitarian aid, deconflict with the UN and aid agencies, protect civilians and repair vital infrastructure like hospitals and water networks.

‘The Prime Minister reiterated that Israel’s rightful aim of defeating Hamas would not be achieved by allowing a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.’ 

Lalzawmi 'Zomi' Frankcom died ¿doing the work she loves¿, her family said in a statement

Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom died ‘doing the work she loves’, her family said in a statement

Polish World Central Kitchen and aid worker Damian Sobol, who was killed by Israeli airstrike in Gaza

Polish World Central Kitchen and aid worker Damian Sobol, who was killed by Israeli airstrike in Gaza

Lord Cameron today welcomed a pledge from Israel to fully investigate the strike on an aid convoy, and urged the nation to ensure more aid is able to get into Gaza.

The Foreign Secretary told broadcasters: ‘I welcome what the Israeli foreign minister said yesterday to me about a full, urgent and transparent inquiry into how this dreadful event was allowed to happen, and we want to see that happen very quickly.

‘I also welcome the fact he spoke about much more aid getting into Gaza, up to 500 trucks a day.

‘That is essential, we have been promised these things before and it really needs to happen, including longer opening times at the vital crossing points.

‘But, of course, the extra aid won’t work unless there is proper deconfliction, unless aid can be taken around Gaza and we avoid the dreadful incidents like we have seen in the last couple of days.

‘That is vital and Britain will be watching very closely to make sure that that happens.’

Former national security adviser Lord Peter Ricketts today told the BBC that the UK should stop selling arms to Israel, saying: ‘I think the time has come to send that signal.

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

He 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’.

Experts expect pressure to increase on Israel to bring an end to the bloody war, which has now dragged on for six months.

But Israel continues to state its aims – to eradicate Hamas and bring the remaining hostages home – even as its forces have swept through and destroyed most of the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians are standing next to a vehicle in Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, on April 2, 2024, where employees from the World Central Kitchen (WCK), including foreigners, were killed in an Israeli airstrike

Palestinians are standing next to a vehicle in Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, on April 2, 2024, where employees from the World Central Kitchen (WCK), including foreigners, were killed in an Israeli airstrike

Heavily damaged vehicle of the officials working at the US-based international volunteer aid organisation World Central Kitchen (WCK)

Heavily damaged vehicle of the officials working at the US-based international volunteer aid organisation World Central Kitchen (WCK)

READ MORE: Picked off one by one, the three British ex-forces heroes who became Israeli targets in airstrike on food charity vehicles in Gaza: How disaster unfolded step by step – as ‘shocked’ Sunak demands answers but Netanyahu insists ‘this happens in war’ 

WCK said it was mourning the loss of its seven ‘heroes’, naming them on Wednesday as Palestinian Saifeddine Issam Ayad Abutaha, 25; n Lalzawmi (Zomi) Frankcom, 43; Pole Damian Sobol, 35; American-Canadian Jacob Flickinger, 33; and Brits John Chapman, 57, James (Jim) Henderson, 33, and James Kirby, 47.

‘These 7 beautiful souls were killed by the IDF in a strike as they were returning from a full day’s mission,’ WCK CEO Erin Gore said.

The organisation called the strike a ‘targeted attack’ and said its team had been coordinating its movements with the Israeli forces.

‘This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war,’ Gore said in an earlier statement.

Gaza has been under Israeli blockade since the start of the war, with the United Nations accusing Israel of preventing humanitarian aid deliveries and warning of ‘catastrophic’ hunger.

World Central Kitchen was facilitating the provision of supplies brought by sea from Cyprus.

Following the strike, it said it was suspending its operations in the region, deepening concerns about how urgently needed food aid will reach a starving population.

The bloodiest-ever Gaza war erupted with Hamas’s October 7 attack, which resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory campaign has killed at least 32,916 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

During their attack on Israel, Palestinian militants also seized around 250 hostages. Israel believes about 130 remain in Gaza, including 34 who are presumed dead.