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Who were the aid workers killed in Gaza airstrike? What we know about the seven victims of ‘grave mistake’ by Israeli forces | World News

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Seven aid workers were killed in an Israeli airstrike while delivering food to besieged Palestinians in Gaza with the charity World Central Kitchen (WCK).

Three British nationals, an Australian, a Polish national, an American-Canadian dual citizen and a Palestinian were killed. Some had travelled the world, taking part in aid efforts in the aftermath of wars and earthquakes.

The Britons were all part of WCK’s security team, according to the charity. They were former soldiers and reportedly worked as private security contractors for UK-based firm Solace Global.

Israel Defence Forces said the strike did not intend to target aid workers, and a thorough investigation into the deaths will be completed in the coming days. “It was a mistake that followed a misidentification – at night, during a war, in very complex conditions. It shouldn’t have happened,” an official added.

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Here’s what we know about all seven of the victims so far.

James Henderson

James Henderson
James Henderson

The 33-year-old former roofer from Cornwall served for six years in the Royal Marines – an elite fighting force of the Royal Navy, according to his LinkedIn page.

He described himself as “extremely fit and military disciplined” – and as someone who takes “the health and safety of others very seriously”.

He wrote his “true vocation lies in security” in a “civilian position”.

“A highly disciplined, courteous and proactive individual who is mobile, offers flexibility and is willing to take on any further training necessary to offer the best service possible,” the page reads.

He left the military in 2016 to pursue security jobs like the one in Gaza.

WCK’s tribute to those killed said he was also known as Jim.

A close friend told the Daily Mail: “Everyone is gutted, he was a lovely lad. He hadn’t been out there long, only a couple of weeks.”

John Chapman

John Chapman
John Chapman

A former special forces commando, the 57-year-old is said to have joined the military straight out of school.

He had only been in Gaza for a few weeks before he was killed, according to The Sun.

He was described as a “brilliant bloke” by a former comrade, who told the newspaper: “He was a very well-liked guy, a very popular bloke and this is a huge loss for his family, his friends and for the veteran community.”

“People trying to deliver aid into Gaza are doing the right thing and they need support and protection from people like John and his colleagues to do their job,” he added.

His uncle, George Chapman, who lives in Aylesbury where the married father-of-two was born, told The Telegraph: “The last time I saw him would have been when he was in the Marines. I went down to see his passing-out parade. He went straight into the Marines from school.”

Speaking about his nephew’s death, he said: “I don’t believe it. I didn’t know much about him, but he was an excellent man.”

He left the Marines four years ago and had lived in Poole, Dorset, with his wife Tarnia and children Spencer and Fern, The Sun also reported.

James Kirby

James Kirby
James Kirby

The 47-year-old, from the Bristol area, was also an Army veteran – a former sniper marksman and rifleman.

According to his LinkedIn profile, he had “continued to develop core security industry skills in the private sector”.

“An experienced, SIA-licensed [Security Industry Authority] close protection officer with a background in executive protection, hostile and covert surveillance, security management and maritime security,” the page reads.

“Former member of the British Armed Forces, fully qualified in all aspects of close protection, with experience working with high-net-worth individuals, business leaders and their families and staff, globally.

“Willing and able to work on international assignments, and free to travel as required.”

He described himself as someone who “maintains a calm demeanour under extreme pressure, including life-threatening situations” and “experienced in working in varied theatres across the globe, both on land and at sea, including hostile and austere locations”.

He also worked as a players’ escort at Wimbledon in July 2021.

Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom

Australian World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid worker Lalzawmi 'Zomi' Frankcom. Pic: World Central Kitchen via Reuters
Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom. Pic: World Central Kitchen via Reuters

Known to her friends as “Zomi”, Melbourne-born Ms Frankcom was remembered as a brave and selfless woman who had spent the last five years working for the WCK.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told Australian Broadcasting Corp: “We mourn this fine Australian who has a record of helping out her fellow citizens.

“She is someone who clearly was concerned about her fellow humanity.”

Relatives described the 43-year-old as an “outstanding human being” who was “killed doing the work she loves delivering food to the people of Gaza”.

Her work for the Washington-based WCK took her to places including the US, Thailand and her native Australia.

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Ms Frankcom’s social media highlighted visits to aid those in need in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Romania and Haiti.

A WCK colleague, who met Ms Frankcom while responding to Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas in 2019, described her as “larger than life”.

“She worked all hours, she gave everything, and she believed in helping people who were less fortunate,” she said.

Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha

Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, 25,
Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha

The 27-year-old Palestinian was identified by relatives and hospital workers.

According to his brother Ahmed Abutaha, he had worked for the WCK as a driver since the start of the year.

Another brother told the New York Times Mr Abutaha had been so excited to distribute the desperately needed food it was “like they were going to a wedding”.

Damian Sobol

Damian Sobol. Pic Reuters
Damian Sobol. Pic: World Central Kitchen via Reuters

Hailing from the Polish city of Przemysl, the 36-year-old had spent the past six months in Gaza after working across the globe on aid missions.

Posting on Facebook, Przemysl mayor Wojciech Bakun said there are “no words to describe how people who knew this fantastic young man feel now”.

Marta Wilczynska, of the Free Place Foundation, met and worked with Mr Sobol after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He spoke English well and was a translator, and he was a skilled manager, she said.

“Always smiling, always so helpful, he loved this job. I felt I had a brother in him,” she added.

“He was a really extraordinary guy. We were very proud of him.”

Free Place Foundation president Mikolaj Rykowski said Mr Sobol was “the man for every task – he could overcome every difficulty”.

Jacob Flickinger

Jacob Flickinger, 33, was part of the relief team
Jacob Flickinger

The 33-year-old dual US and Canadian citizen was part of the relief team working to bring aid to Gazans in need.

In a statement, World Central Kitchen named Mr Flickinger as one of seven “beautiful souls” killed during the 1 April attack.

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Those responsible for his and his colleague’s deaths must be held accountable, Canada’s foreign affairs minister Melanie Joly said in a social media post condemning the strikes.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the aid workers as “heroes” who were “simply trying to help fellow human beings”.

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