British volunteer among seven aid workers killed in airstrike after delivering food to displaced Palestinians in Gaza

1 April 2024, 23:30 | Updated: 2 April 2024, 06:55

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the central Gaza Strip. File image from March 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the central Gaza Strip. File image from March 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana). Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

A British aid worker is among seven volunteers who have been killed by an Israeli airstrike in central Gaza, the Hamas-run health ministry has announced.

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Volunteers from the UK, Poland, Australia, a dual US-Canadian citizen and one Palestinian were among those killed in the Gaza city of Deir al-Balah where they were delivering food to displaced Palestinians.

All seven of the volunteers were understood to have been employees from the World Central Kitchen - a charity devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters, according to the charity's CEO Erin Gore.

They were reportedly driving in a vehicle together when the strike hit.

Footage online appears to show the dead bodies of the deceased wearing the charity's logo. An image of several passports covered in blood was also shared.

The killed aid workers were taken to the al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the central Gaza town of Deir al Balah, according to reports.

The volunteers had just crossed into Gaza and had hours earlier been helping deliver aid from a ship in Cyprus, Mahmoud Thabet, a paramedic from the Palestinian Red Crescent who helped take the bodies to the hospital told The Associated Press.

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A spokesperson for the Gaza government's media office said Israel was responsible for the strikes.

"It is time for this war to stop immediately. It is time for the killing against civilians, against children, and against women to stop," Ismail al Thawabta said.

He then called on "all countries of the world, all international organisations, and all human rights organisations to condemn this crime immediately".

Israel's military said it is "conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident".

"The IDF makes extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid," the military said in a statement, reported by Sky News.

The IDF claimed it had been working with World Central Kitchen "in their vital efforts to provide food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza".

The World Central Kitchen said in a statement: “We are aware of reports that members of the World Central Kitchen team have been killed in an IDF attack while working to support our humanitarian food delivery efforts in Gaza.

“This is a tragedy. Humanitarian aid workers and civilians should NEVER be a target. EVER.”

Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said on X: "We are heartbroken and deeply troubled by the strike that killed [WCK] aid workers in Gaza.

"Humanitarian aid workers must be protected as they deliver aid that is desperately needed, and we urge Israel to swiftly investigate what happened."