Israel ‘must explain’ strike on aid workers that killed three Britons says Sunak

Senior government figures call for ‘immediate’ probe into strike on World Central Kitchen


People gather around the carcass of a car used by US-based aid group World Central Kitchen, that was hit by an Israeli strike the previous day in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on April 2, 2024 (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Rishi Sunak has said Israel “must explain” how an air strike killed international aid workers, including three Britons.

Seven staff from the World Central Kitchen charity were killed when their aid convoy came under attack from an IDF drone. As well as three Brits, the workers included an Australian, a Pole and a dual American-Canadian citizen.

One of the Brits killed was named by WCK as Special Forces veteran James Henderson, 33.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israeli forces had “unintentionally” struck innocent aid workers.

“Unfortunately, in the last day there was a tragic case of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people in the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said. “It happens in war; we are fully examining this. We are in contact with the governments, and we will do everything so that this thing does not happen again.”

Netanyahu's comments come as the British government summoned the Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely over the killings. Hotovely was told that Israel must “put in place effective deconfliction mechanism and urgently scale up humanitarian access”.

Meanwhile, Sunak said, “Israel must explain how this tragic incident happened and take immediate steps to protect aid workers and facilitate vital humanitarian operations in Gaza.”

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called for Israel to conduct an “impartial” investigation into the IDF drone strikes. Blinken called the aid workers “heroes” who “Run into the fire, not away from it” and represent “the best of what humanity has to offer.” The US politician noted that a “record number” of aid workers have been killed in Israel’s six-month-old war against Hamas.

Foreign Secretary, Lord David Cameron, said: “We have called on Israel to immediately investigate and provide a full, transparent explanation of what happened.”

Conservative MP Alicia Kearns called for a “thorough and swift investigation as to how this happened, and also what impact it will have on the ability of the maritime corridor to function given it is World Central Kitchen who were receiving and distributing the desperately needed aid.

Kearns added, “There is also still no explanation for the January bombing of the Medical Aid for Palestine complex in a declared safe zone which had also been deconflicted directly with the IDF, which four British doctors thankfully survived.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer said, “Humanitarian workers put their lives in danger to serve others. Their deaths are outrageous and unacceptable - and it is not the first time aid workers have come under fire in Israel's campaign. International law must be upheld and humanitarian workers must be protected so that they can deliver the aid that is so desperately needed.”

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy called the incident “horrifying” and said, “There must be a full investigation and accountability.”

Lammy called for “an immediate ceasefire” while Starmer said, “this war must stop now.”

Stand With Us, an educational charity that aims to support Israel and fight antisemitism, called the incident “tragic”. In a statement, the charity said: “These courageous people were working in the war zone to help feed people during the course of the ongoing, nearly six-month horrific war, launched by Hamas on October 7. The IDF acknowledged the gravity of this devastating incident, and indicated that it is opening a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding it and that it will publicize the findings.”

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