Bodies of foreign aid workers killed in Israeli strike to be repatriated

GAZA STRIP, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES  -  The bodies of six foreign aid work­ers killed in a Gaza strike were ex­pected to be transported out of the war-torn Palestinian territory on Wednesday as Israel faced a chorus of outrage over their deaths. 

Israeli bombardment killed sev­en staff of the US-based food chari­ty World Central Kitchen on Monday in an attack that UN chief Antonio Guterres labelled “unconscionable” and “an inevitable result of the way the war is being conducted”.

The remains of the six internation­al staff, who were killed alongside one Palestinian colleague, were set to be taken out of Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, said Mar­wan Al-Hams, director of the city’s Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital.

Israel’s armed forces chief Her­zi Halevi called the attack a “grave mistake”, which he blamed on nigh­time “misidentification”, adding in a video message that “we are sor­ry for the unintentional harm to the members of WCK”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benja­min Netanyahu had earlier pledged the “tragic case” would be investi­gated “right to the end”. The seven deaths piled more pressure on Isra­el, whose war since the Hamas at­tack of October 7 has brought devas­tation and mass civilian casualties to Gaza, where the UN warns the popu­lation of 2.4 million is on the brink of famine. US President Joe Biden said he was “outraged and heartbroken” by the deaths and charged that Isra­el “has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desper­ately needed help to civilians”. 


Australian Prime Minister Antho­ny Albanese said he had voiced his “anger and concern” in a phone call with Netanyahu, while Britain sum­moned the Israeli ambassador and demanded “full accountability”.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk wrote on X to Netanyahu and Israel’s ambassador, saying the deaths were straining ties and that “the tragic at­tack against volunteers and your reaction are generating an under­standable anger”.

Pope Francis expressed his “deep sorrow” and renewed his appeal for access to aid for the “exhausted and suffering civilian population” of Gaza, and for hostages taken by Hamas to be released. The charity said it was mourning the loss of its seven “heroes” and “beautiful souls”. It said they had been killed in a “tar­geted attack” that was launched de­spite the group having coordinated its movements with Israeli forces. 

It named those killed as Palestin­ian Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, 25; Australian Lalzawmi (Zomi) Frankcom, 43; Britons John Chap­man, 57, James (Jim) Henderson, 33, and James Kirby, 47; Pole Dami­an Sobol, 35; and US-Canadian Jacob Flickinger, 33. After their deaths, the charity suspended operations and a ship that had carried food aid from Cyprus to Gaza turned back towards the Mediterranean island with around 240 tonnes of supplies that had not been unloaded.

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