Updated Apr 3, 2024 - World

Who were the World Central Kitchen workers killed by an Israeli strike in Gaza

Lalzawmi Frankcom alongside other World Central Kitchen workers

Lalzawmi Frankcom alongside other World Central Kitchen workers. Photo: World Central Kitchen/Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images

The killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers by an Israeli strike this week has drawn widespread condemnation and highlighted the risks faced by humanitarians helping civilians during the Israel-Hamas war.

The big picture: Though the killing of international aid workers reverberated widely, the conflict has exacted an immense human toll in Gaza, where more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since October.

  • Israel has faced international pressure to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza, where half the population has exhausted their food supply and vast numbers of people are facing famine.
  • One in three children under the age of two in Northern Gaza are acutely malnourished, UNICEF said last month.
  • At least 1,200 people were killed in Hamas' attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

Zoom in: Chef José Andrés, the founder of World Central Kitchen, described the seven killed workers as "the best of humanity" and said their deaths were the "direct result" of Israeli policy during the war.

  • President Biden rebuked the Israeli government Tuesday, saying it has "not done enough to protect aid workers" in Gaza.

Here's what to know about the World Central Kitchen workers killed in Gaza.

Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha

Abutaha, 25, was a Palestinian member of the WCK relief team who had worked as a driver and translator for the organization since the beginning of the year, AP reported.

  • His brothers told AP he was eager to help Palestinians and that he and his colleagues had been excited to unload the food aid at the Deir al-Balah warehouse.
  • After hearing about the airstrikes, one of his brothers repeatedly tried to reach Abutaha by phone.
  • Eventually a stranger answered and told him "I found this phone about 200 meters away from the car. All of the people inside are killed," the brother told AP.

Lalzawmi "Zomi" Frankcom

Frankcom, 43, was originally from Australia and served as the WCK's Relief Lead in Gaza, according to the organization.

  • "She will leave behind a legacy of compassion, bravery and love for all those in her orbit," her family said in a statement, the Guardian reported.
  • Frankcom had worked for WCK for the past five years, following an eight-year stint at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, per AP.
  • WCK colleague Dora Weekley told ABC News Frankcom was "larger than life." The two met when they were responding to Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas in 2019.

Damian Soból

Soból, 35, was a member of the WCK team who had been in Gaza for six months, per AP.

  • Marta Wilczynska, of the Free Place Foundation, which works with WCK, told AP that Soból was "always smiling, always so helpful, he loved this job."
  • Prior to coming to Gaza, Soból had been on WCK aid missions in Ukraine, Morocco and Turkey, per AP.

Jacob Flickinger

Flickinger, 33, was a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada and a member of the WCK relief team.

  • He leaves behind his partner and a one-year-old baby boy, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help his family.
  • Flickinger had been in Gaza since early March and had also previously worked on a WCK mission in Mexico, per the page.

John Chapman

Chapman, 57, was a British member of the WCK security team.

  • His family described him as "an incredible father, husband, son and brother" and said they were "devastated" by the loss, the BBC reported.
  • Chapman was a veteran of the Royal Marines, per AP.
  • He had only been in Gaza several week and leaves behind two children, per Reuters.

James Henderson

Henderson, 33, was also a British member of the WCK security team.

  • Henderson was a Royal Marines veteran originally from Cornwall who had been due to leave Gaza on Monday, according to Sky News.

James Kirby

Kirby, 47, was the third British national killed in the strike and also worked on the WCK's security team.

  • As a former member of the British Armed Forces, Kirby had served tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan before going to work in security consulting, per the BBC.
  • "Despite the risks, his compassionate nature drove him to offer assistance to those in dire need," Kirby's family said in a statement, adding that they were "incredibly proud" of him, per Sky News.

Zoom out: Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Tuesday: "Humanitarian workers are heroes. They show the best of what humanity has to offer."

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