Mon. Apr 15th, 2024
alert-–-the-world-turns-on-israel-after-world-central-kitchen-slaughter:-international-fury-grows,-with-uk-possibly-axing-arms-deals-as-idf-is-accused-of-war-crimes-and-aid-worker-death-toll-exceeds-that-of-any-other-conflictAlert – The world turns on Israel after World Central Kitchen slaughter: International fury grows, with UK possibly axing arms deals as IDF is accused of war crimes and aid worker death toll exceeds that of any other conflict

World leaders have vented their fury at Israel following an ‘outrageous’ drone strike on a convoy of aid workers from the charity World Central Kitchen which killed seven, including three British armed forces heroes.

The humanitarian convoy of three cars, which were clearly marked as belonging to the humanitarian organisation while moving along a route approved by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), was blasted in a ‘triple tap’ strike on Monday.

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. 

Among the passengers in the doomed aid convoy were former Royal Marine James Henderson, 33; former SBS soldier John Chapman, 57; as well as a British military veteran James Kirby. 

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

Israel has apologised for what it called ‘a grave mistake’ and said it is investigating the incident. The UK government could now suspend arms sales to Israel once it has established the all of the facts of the incident, inside sources have reportedly said.

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

John Chapman (pictured) and James Henderson were 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

A British military veteran named last night by the BBC as James Kirby was also killed

A British military veteran named last night by the BBC as James Kirby was also killed

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

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.’ 

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.

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

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

‘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. 

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.

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 taken a call with Netanyahu, in which  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.

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

‘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.’ 

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.

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