World Central Kitchen identifies 7 workers killed in Israeli strike: What we know

Officials with the food charity World Central Kitchen on Wednesday identified seven workers killed in an Israeli strike earlier this week after delivering humanitarian aid in Gaza.

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“These 7 beautiful souls were killed by the (Israel Defense Forces) in a strike as they were returning from a full day’s mission,” World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore said in a statement.

“Their smiles, laughter, and voices are forever embedded in our memories. And we have countless memories of them giving their best selves to the world.”

Here’s what we know about those slain:

Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, 25

The youngest person killed in the Israeli strike, Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha was mourned by hundreds of people who gathered in his hometown of Rafah in Palestine on Tuesday, according to BBC News. He was identified as the group’s driver.

“He was happy to work with an organization that provides humanitarian aid to the displaced, our hearts are broken by your death, Saif,” a close friend identified as Hassan told the BBC in an emotional statement.

“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.”

Lalzawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom, 43

Before volunteering to help feed people in Gaza, Zomi Frankcom provided support for people in Bangladesh, Pakistan and her native Australia, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said at a news conference Wednesday.

He called Frankcom’s death “completely unacceptable” and said he shared “Australia’s anger and concern over her death with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

In a statement obtained by Australia’s Channel 9, Frankcom’s family described her as “brave and beloved,” and said that she was “killed doing the work she loves delivering food to the people of Gaza.”

“She was a kind, selfless and outstanding human being that has travelled the world helping others in their time of need,” the statement read. “She will leave behind a legacy of compassion, bravery and love for all those in her orbit.”

Damian Soból, 35

Polish officials confirmed that Damian Soból, who hailed from the town of Przemyśl in southeast Poland, died in the IDF strike.

“Our brave compatriot, Mr. Damian Sobol from Przemyśl, helped people in need in Gaza where there is a humanitarian crisis,” Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said in a video posted on social media, according to BBC News. “He was killed during an attack which the Israeli army has accepted responsibility for.”

Meredith Hedrick, a teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia, told WUSA that she and her husband earlier worked alongside Damian to feed Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

“I remember him delivering food,” she said, describing him as “friendly, outgoing, gregarious (and a) hard worker.”

“He really upheld the standards while we were there,” she added.

Jacob Flickinger, 33

A dual citizen of the United States and Canada, Jacob Flickinger was identified as one of the seven people killed in the IDF strike.

In a statement released Tuesday, President Joe Biden called him and the other six slain in the attack “brave and selfless,” and added, “Their deaths are a tragedy.”

“This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed,” the president said. “This is a major reason why distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza has been so difficult — because Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians.”

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said in a statement on social media that she was “horrified” to learn of the IDF strike.

“We condemn these strikes (and) call for a full investigation,” she said, adding that Canada “expects full accountability for these killings.”

John Chapman, 57

John Chapman was one of three Britons killed in the Israeli strike on Monday. The three worked for the security firm Solace Global as part World Central Kitchen’s security team, according to BBC News.

In a statement issued through the Foreign Office and obtained by The Guardian, Chapman’s family members said they were “devasted to have lost John.”

“He died trying to help people and was subject to an inhuman act. He was an incredible father, son and brother,” the statement read.

The family asked for the “space and time to grieve appropriately.”

“He was loved by many and will forever be a hero,” they said. “He will be missed dearly.”

James ‘Jim’ Henderson, 33

Jim Henderson served in the Royal Marines, an elite fighting force of the British navy, for six years before starting his work with World Central Kitchen, Reuters reported.

A close friend, who was not identified by name, told The Telegraph that his family learned of his death on Tuesday morning.

“Everyone is gutted, he was a lovely lad,” the friend said. “He hadn’t been out there long, only a couple of weeks.”

James Kirby, 47

Family members said James Kirby was a military veteran who served as a member of the British armed forces in Afghanistan and Bosnia, CNN reported. His cousin, Adam McGuire, told Sky News that he and the six others killed on Monday “are like heroes to us.”

“They went out there selflessly to help some of the most desperate people in the world,” he said.

In a statement obtained by the news network, McGuire’s family described him as a “genuine gentleman” and someone who made them “incredibly proud.”

“James understood the dangers of venturing into Gaza, drawing from his experiences in the British Armed Forces,” the statement read. “Despite the risks, his compassionate nature drove him to offer assistance to those in dire need.”

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