April 18. 2024. 9:35

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Who were the World Central Kitchen workers killed in Gaza?

Seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen (WCK) have been killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza, the charity’s founder says.

The victims were British, Polish, Australian, Palestinian and also included a dual US-Canadian citizen, WCK said.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has acknowledged that the Israeli military hit "innocent people", describing it as tragic and unintentional.

"It happens in war, we check it to the end, we are in contact with the governments, and we will do everything so that this thing does not happen again," he said in a video message.

Here’s what we know about the aid workers killed.

Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom, 43

Ms Frankcom died "doing the work she loves", her family said in a statement.

The aid worker from Melbourne, Australia was the WCK’s Relief Lead in Gaza. She was described as a "kind, selfless and outstanding human being [who] travelled the world helping others in their time of need".

Australian aid worker Lalzawmi "Zomi" Frankcom (seen on the left), who was killed in Gaza, was seen in this recent WCK video

"She will leave behind a legacy of compassion, bravery and love for all those in her orbit," they added.

Last month, WCK posted a video on X of Ms Frankcom at their kitchen in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, which was newly opened.

Dora Weekley, a friend and former WCK colleague, told ABC News that Ms Frankcom was "dedicated" and someone who made sure people in need had a hot meal to look forward to every day.

Ms Weekley met Ms Frankcom in 2019, when they responded to Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, and worked with her again during the summer bushfires in Australia.

  • Charity halts work in Gaza after strike kills staff

Damian Sobol, 35

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has confirmed Mr Sobol was killed.

"Our brave compatriot, Mr Damian Sobol from Przemysl, helped people in need in Gaza where there is a humanitarian crisis. He was killed during an attack which the Israeli army has accepted responsibility for," he said in a video message on X. In an earlier post, he said he had personally asked the Israeli ambassador for an "urgent explanation" for the strike.

Polish President Andrzej Duda wrote on X that it was "with deep pain" that he had learned about the deaths of the WCK volunteers, including a Polish citizen.

Watch: Archive video shows Damian Soból describes loading trucks with "pots ready to cook 20,000 meals"

"These brave people changed the world for the better with their service and dedication to others. This tragedy should never have happened and must be explained," he said.

Mr Sobol, from Przemysl in south-eastern Poland, was originally identified by the city’s mayor in a Facebook post.

Wojciech Bakun called Mr Sobol a "fantastic boy" and said words could not describe how those who knew him were feeling.

Colleagues of Mr Sobol have posted comments on social media describing how he had taken part in delivering aid to Ukrainian refugees following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, 25

Mourners gathered in the Gazan city of Rafah on Tuesday for the funeral of the Palestinian driver who was killed in the strike.

Hundreds of people mourned Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, whose body was transported to Rafah, his hometown, where relatives, colleagues and friends carried him on their shoulders.

Saif Abu Taha Palestinian World Central Kitchen aid worker Saif Abu Taha and Polish worker Damian Sobol pose for a selfie Saif Abu Taha

Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha (L) posted a selfie with Damian Sobol (R) on Instagram nine weeks ago

"He was happy to work with an organisation that provides humanitarian aid to the displaced, our hearts are broken by your death, Saif," his close friend Hassan said amid tears, sadness and anger.

"You have hurt us with your passing, and we will not forget you. We pray for your mercy, Saif, and may God give us patience and give patience to your family and loved ones."

British nationals John Chapman, 57, James (Jim) Henderson, 33 and James Kirby, 47

Three British nationals were killed in the attack.

John Chapman, James Henderson and James Kirby were the UK aid workers killed in the strike, the BBC has established. The three men were part of WCK’s security team.

Reuters/World Central Kitchen An image showing John Chapman, James Kirby and James Henderson Reuters/World Central Kitchen

John Chapman, James Henderson and James Kirby were among the seven World Central Kitchen workers killed in Monday’s strike

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke with Mr Netanyahu on Tuesday evening. Downing Street said the prime minister told Mr Netanyahu he was appalled by the incident and demanded a thorough and transparent investigation into their deaths.

Mr Sunak said earlier he was "shocked and saddened" and sent his thoughts to the friends and families of the victims. He added that aid charities should be "praised and commended" for their work, which they should be allowed to do "unhindered".

Jacob Flickinger, 33

WCK said those killed also included a dual US-Canadian citizen, who was named on Tuesday evening as Jacob Flickinger.

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

He said Washington had spoken directly to the Israeli government and urged "a swift, thorough and impartial investigation to understand exactly what happened".

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly echoed the call for a full investigation, saying she was "horrified" to hear of the attack.

"Strikes on humanitarian personnel are absolutely unacceptable," she said on X.

Large number of aid workers killed in Gaza

More than 196 aid workers have been killed in Gaza since October, according to the US-funded Aid Worker Security Database, which records major incidents of violence against aid personnel.

Most of those killed since the war broke out six months ago worked for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which runs the biggest aid operation in Gaza.

About 1,200 people were killed and 253 hostages taken when Hamas launched its unprecedented attack on southern Israel on 7 October. About 130 hostages remain in captivity, at least 34 of whom are presumed dead.

Since then, 32,916 people have been killed in Gaza, including many women and children, the Hamas-run health ministry says.