British national among seven aid workers killed in Gaza air strike

British national among seven aid workers killed in Gaza air strike

A British national was among seven aid workers killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza, the World Central Kitchen (WCK) charity has said.

Seven aid workers from the United Kingdom, Australia, Poland, dual citizens of the US and Canada, and Palestine were killed while travelling in a deconflicted zone, WCK said in a statement.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) said on Tuesday morning that it is “aware” of the report.

A spokesperson said: “We are aware of reports of the death of a British national in Gaza and are urgently seeking further information.”

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan told the BBC the Government is “very, very concerned”.

She said: “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.”

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

Despite co-ordinating WCK’s moves with the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), the charity said 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 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.

People inspect the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip
People at the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip (Abdel Kareem Hana/AP)

“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”.

WCK immediately suspended operations in the region.

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 has 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.”