Fri. Apr 19th, 2024
alert-–-rishi-sunak-says-there-are-‘questions-that-need-answering’-after-israeli-airstrike-‘kills-two-british-aid-workers’-in-gaza-as-david-cameron-demands-idf-carries-out-‘full,-transparent’-investigationAlert – Rishi Sunak says there are ‘questions that need answering’ after Israeli airstrike ‘kills two British aid workers’ in Gaza as David Cameron demands IDF carries out ‘full, transparent’ investigation

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he is ‘shocked and saddened’ by the deaths of British aid workers in Gaza following a deadly Israeli airstrike on an aid truck, declaring ‘clearly there are questions that need to be answered’.

It comes after British Foreign Secretary David Cameron demanded Israel immediately launch an investigation and provide a ‘full, transparent explanation’ for the ‘deeply distressing’ deaths.

Initial reports indicated one British man was among seven volunteers working with the World Central Kitchen (WCK) charity to distribute food to Palestinians in Gaza who perished in the strike.

But images from the scene suggested two British passports were found among the devastation of a clearly marked WCK truck. 

Horrific photographs showed how a huge hole had been blown in the roof of the truck reducing the rear of the car to twisted hunks of charred metal, with the vehicle’s interior torn to shreds by the force of the blast. 

‘British Nationals are reported to have been killed, we are urgently working to verify this information and will provide full support to their families,’ Cameron said on X.

‘It is essential that humanitarian workers are protected and able to carry out their work. We have called on Israel to immediately investigate and provide a full, transparent explanation of what happened.’

The team from the charity and their Palestinian driver were killed on the Al-Rashid road between Deir Al Balah and Khan Younis in central Gaza when their vehicle was struck on Monday, local media reported, after the group helped deliver food and other supplies to the region.

Seven aid workers including a British man have been killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza, the World Central Kitchen charity has confirmed. Pictured: A destroyed car displaying the charity's logo is seen from above on Tuesday

Seven aid workers including a British man have been killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza, the World Central Kitchen charity has confirmed. Pictured: A destroyed car displaying the charity’s logo is seen from above on Tuesday

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)

A man displays British, Polish, and n passports next to the bodies of World Central Kitchen workers at Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah

A man displays British, Polish, and n passports next to the bodies of World Central Kitchen workers at Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah

Heavily damaged vehicle of the officials working at the US-based international volunteer aid organisation World Central Kitchen (WCK), who are killed, is seen after an Israeli attack on a vehicle belonging to WCK in Deir Al-Balah of Gaza on April 02, 2024

Heavily damaged vehicle of the officials working at the US-based international volunteer aid organisation World Central Kitchen (WCK), who are killed, is seen after an Israeli attack on a vehicle belonging to WCK in Deir Al-Balah of Gaza on April 02, 2024

Volunteers at international aid organisation inspect the vehicles as vehicles of the officials working at World Central Kitchen (WCK), who are killed, are heavily damaged during an Israeli attack on a vehicle belonging to WCK in Deir Al-Balah of Gaza on April 02, 2024

Volunteers at international aid organisation inspect the vehicles as vehicles of the officials working at World Central Kitchen (WCK), who are killed, are heavily damaged during an Israeli attack on a vehicle belonging to WCK in Deir Al-Balah of Gaza on April 02, 2024

Heavily damaged vehicle of the officials working at the US-based international volunteer aid organization World Central Kitchen

Heavily damaged vehicle of the officials working at the US-based international volunteer aid organization World Central Kitchen

World Central Kitchen (WCK) said in a statement that seven aid workers from the UK, , Poland, dual citizens of the US and Canada, and Palestine were killed while travelling in a deconflicted zone.

The workers had just crossed in from the north after helping deliver aid that had arrived hours earlier on a ship from Cyprus, sources have claimed.

Harrowing footage shared online appeared to show the bodies of the dead at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital. Several of them wore protective gear with the charity’s logo.

In comments to journalists this morning, Prime Minister Sunak said: ‘We are asking Israel to investigate what happened urgently, because clearly there are questions that need to be answered.’

Mr Sunak added: ‘My thoughts are with their friends and family.

‘They are doing fantastic work bringing alleviation to the suffering that many are experiencing in Gaza.

‘They should be praised and commended for what they are doing.

‘They need to be allowed to do that work unhindered and it is incumbent on Israel to make sure they can do that.’

The IDF said it has launched a probe into the incident at the ‘highest levels’ and reiterated that it has been ‘working closely’ with the charity, but also ‘makes extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid’. 

IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari later said in a statement that he had ‘expressed the deepest condolences of the Israel Defence Forces to the families and the entire World Central Kitchen family’.

‘We will be opening a probe to examine this serious incident further.

‘This will help us reduce the risk of such an event from occurring again.

‘The incident will be investigated in the Fact Finding and Assessment Mechanism: an independent, professional, and expert body.’

The team from the charity and their Palestinian driver were killed in central Gaza's Deir al-Balah when their vehicle (pictured) was struck on Monday, local media reported, after the group helped deliver food and other supplies to the region

The team from the charity and their Palestinian driver were killed in central Gaza’s Deir al-Balah when their vehicle (pictured) was struck on Monday, local media reported, after the group helped deliver food and other supplies to the region

Lalzawmi

Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom (pictured), 44, from Melbourne , was killed along with three other international aid workers and a Palestinian driver, in Central Gaza, while working with the World Central Kitchen charity on Monday

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

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

People inspect the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, April 2, 2024

People inspect the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, April 2, 2024

'British Nationals are reported to have been killed, we are urgently working to verify this information and will provide full support to their families,' Cameron said on X

‘British Nationals are reported to have been killed, we are urgently working to verify this information and will provide full support to their families,’ Cameron said on X

WCK CEO Erin Gore said this morning: ‘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.

What is World Central Kitchen? 

Founded in 2010, World Central Kitchen delivers freshly prepared meals to people in need following natural disasters, like hurricanes or earthquakes, or to those enduring conflict. The group has also provided meals to migrants arriving at the southern U.S. border, as well as to hospital staff who worked relentlessly during the coronavirus pandemic.

The aid group sends in teams who can cook meals that appeal to the local palate on a large scale and fast.

‘When you talk about food and water, people don’t want a solution one week from now, one month from now. The solution has to be now,’ Andrés is quoted as saying on the group’s website.

World Central Kitchen has worked in dozens of affected areas and currently has teams in Haiti, addressing the needs of Ukrainians displaced by Russia’s invasion, as well as providing meals to people affected by the war in Gaza.

In Gaza, the group says it has provided more than 43 million meals to Palestinians.

The group has set up two main kitchens in the southern city of Rafah and the central town of Deir al-Balah. It lends support to 68 community kitchens throughout the territory, serving more than 170,000 hot meals a day.

‘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.’

The n victim was named this morning as Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom, 44, from Melbourne, while the Polish victim was named as Damian Sobol.

Since the October start of the war, World Central Kitchen has been involved in relief efforts, including supplying meals to hunger-stricken Gaza.

It is one of two NGOs spearheading efforts to deliver aid to Gaza by boat from Cyprus and was also involved in the construction of a temporary jetty.

WCK has described the loss of life as a ‘tragedy’ and, in a statement posted online, said ‘humanitarian aid workers and civilians should NEVER be a target. EVER’.

Its statement said the team was travelling in two armoured cars ‘branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle.’

It added: ‘Despite coordinating movements with the IDF, the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route.’

Gaza medical officials said earlier an apparent Israeli airstrike killed four international aid workers with the US-based international aid charity and their Palestinian driver.

The car was hit by an Israeli strike just after crossing from northern Gaza, Mahmoud Thabet, a paramedic from the Palestinian Red Crescent who was on the team that brought the bodies to the hospital, has claimed.

Video posted to social media also shows staff displaying the passports of three of the dead – British, n and Polish.

Their bodies could be seen in the background wrapped in body bags and wearing armour marked with the World Central Kitchen logo.

The source of strike could not be independently confirmed, but IDF will be ‘conducting a thorough review’ of the strike, Israel National News reported.

People stand near a destroyed car of the NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) along Al Rashid road, between Deir Al Balah and Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 2

People stand near a destroyed car of the NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) along Al Rashid road, between Deir Al Balah and Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 2

A view inside a destroyed vehicle from the World Central Kitchen in Gaza on April 2

A view inside a destroyed vehicle from the World Central Kitchen in Gaza on April 2

Palestinians are seen gathering around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on April 1, 2024. Many buildings including the hospital have been heavily damaged under airstrikes

Palestinians are seen gathering around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on April 1, 2024. Many buildings including the hospital have been heavily damaged under airstrikes

Palestinians gather around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on April 1, 2024

Palestinians gather around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on April 1, 2024

Palestinians gather around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital after as Israeli forces withdrew from Al-Shifa hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on April 1, 2024

Palestinians gather around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital after as Israeli forces withdrew from Al-Shifa hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on April 1, 2024

The Israeli army, in a statement, said: ‘Following the reports regarding the World Central Kitchen personnel in Gaza today, the IDF is conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident.

‘The IDF makes extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, and has been working closely with WCK in their vital efforts to provide food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.’

In Britain, a Cabinet minister said the Government is ‘very, very concerned’ by reports that a British aid worker has been killed in Gaza.

Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, told the BBC: ‘We haven’t had it confirmed yet, but we are very, very concerned by the situation.

‘We do know that we’ve urged Israel to do more to protect civilians, but also to allow aid to get into Gaza.

‘But we haven’t yet had this confirmed and I think the IDF are reviewing this, probably as we speak.’

She added it was ‘worrying’ that the charity World Central Kitchen had suspended its work in Gaza.

She said: ‘One of the key things is trying to ensure we get more aid into Gaza, so if one of the charities working on the ground has suspended, then that’s obviously deeply concerning.’

Ms Keegan added: ‘Our thoughts would go to everybody affected.’

James Elder, spokesman for the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (Unicef), said the aid worker deaths underlined how dangerous the situation in Gaza has become.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘It is utterly horrifying. These people had been unloading something like a hundred tonnes of humanitarian food aid at this most critical junction when they were saving lives day in, day out.

Describing it as an ‘immense tragedy’, Mr Elder said the incident ‘underscores the horrendous conditions everyone continues to endure in Gaza, but it is just such a senseless loss of life’.

He added: ‘This has been one of the most dangerous places in living memory to operate, Gaza is breaking too many bleak records – numbers of children killed, number of people facing catastrophic hunger, record displacement, worst devastation to homes in living memory and largest number of United Nations colleagues killed since it was created.’

Passports of the officials working at the US-based international volunteer aid organization World Central Kitchen who were killed in an Israeli airstrike on April 1, 2024 are seen after the attack

Passports of the officials working at the US-based international volunteer aid organization World Central Kitchen who were killed in an Israeli airstrike on April 1, 2024 are seen after the attack

Ms Frankcom (pictured) had been working for the World Central Kitchen charity

Ms Frankcom (pictured) had been working for the World Central Kitchen charity 

Israeli troops, in a photo released by the Israeli army on April 1, 2024, are seen operating in the Gaza Strip amid the continuing battle with Hamas

Israeli troops, in a photo released by the Israeli army on April 1, 2024, are seen operating in the Gaza Strip amid the continuing battle with Hamas

An Israeli soldier, in a photo released by Israel's army on April 1, 2024, holds his gun as he and his troops operate in the Gaza Strip

An Israeli soldier, in a photo released by Israel’s army on April 1, 2024, holds his gun as he and his troops operate in the Gaza Strip

The aid ships that arrived Monday carried some 400 tons of food and supplies in a shipment organized by the United Arab Emirates and the World Central Kitchen, the charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés.

Last month a ship delivered 200 tons of aid in a pilot run. The Israeli military was involved in coordinating both deliveries.

The US has touted the sea route as a new way to deliver desperately needed aid to northern Gaza, where several hundred Palestinians face imminent famine, largely cut off from the rest of the territory by Israeli forces .

Israel has barred UNRWA, the main UN agency in Gaza, from making deliveries to the north , and other aid groups say sending truck convoys north has been too dangerous because of the military’s failure to ensure safe passage.

The airstrike comes after the Israeli military withdrew from Gaza’s largest hospital early Monday after a two-week raid that engulfed the facility and surrounding districts in fighting. 

Footage showed widespread devastation, with the facility’s main buildings reduced to burned-out husks.

The military has described the raid on Shifa Hospital as a major battlefield victory in the nearly six-month war, and officials said Israeli troops killed 200 militants in the operation, though the claim that they were all militants could not be confirmed.

The raid came at a time of mounting frustration in Israel, with tens of thousands protesting Sunday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and demanding that he do more to bring home dozens of hostages held in Gaza. It was the largest anti-government demonstration since the start of the war.

Elsewhere, Syrian officials and state media said an Israeli airstrike destroyed the Iran’s consulate in Syria, killing two Iranian generals and five officers.

The strike appears to signify an escalation of Israel’s targeting of Iranian military officials and their allies in Syria. The targeting has intensified since Hamas militants – who are supported by Iran – attacked Israel on October 7.

While Iran’s consular building was levelled in the attack, according to Syria’s SANA state news agency, its main embassy building remained intact.

Israel, which rarely acknowledges such strikes, said it had no comment. Iran’s ambassador, Hossein Akbari, vowed revenge for the attack ‘at the same magnitude and harshness.’

A ship loaded with humanitarian aid departing from the Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus is seen off the coast of Gaza city on April 1, 2024

A ship loaded with humanitarian aid departing from the Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus is seen off the coast of Gaza city on April 1, 2024

Humanitarian aid is pictured being air dropped over Gaza from an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft in a photo issued by Britain's Ministry of Defence on April 1, 2024

Humanitarian aid is pictured being air dropped over Gaza from an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft in a photo issued by Britain’s Ministry of Defence on April 1, 2024

UK Forces airdrop more food supplies to civilians in Gaza on April 1, 2024 as part of the action to address the plight of the Palestinian people

UK Forces airdrop more food supplies to civilians in Gaza on April 1, 2024 as part of the action to address the plight of the Palestinian people

The war began on October 7 when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 people hostage.

Israel responded with an air, land and sea offensive that has killed at least 32,845 Palestinians, around two-thirds of them women and children, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. 

The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its count. 

The Israeli military blames the civilian toll on Palestinian militants because they fight in dense residential areas.

The war has displaced most of the territory’s population and driven a third of its residents to the brink of famine. 

Northern Gaza, where Shifa is located, has suffered vast destruction and has been largely isolated since October, leading to widespread hunger.

Netanyahu has vowed to keep up the offensive until Hamas is destroyed and all hostages are freed. 

He says Israel will soon expand ground operations to the southern city of Rafah, where some 1.4 million people – more than half of Gaza’s population – have sought refuge.

But he faces mounting pressure from Israelis who blame him for the security failures of October 7 and from some families of the hostages who blame him for the failure to reach a deal despite several weeks of talks mediated by the United States, Qatar and Egypt. 

Allied countries, including main backer the United States, have warned him against an invasion of Rafah.

Hamas and other militants are still believed to be holding some 100 hostages and the remains of 30 others, after freeing most of the rest during a cease-fire last November in exchange for the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.