Brit ex-special forces hero & former Royal Marine among 7 killed in ‘unintended’ Israeli airstrike on aid convoy in Gaza

<div>Brit ex-special forces hero & former Royal Marine among 7 killed in ‘unintended’ Israeli airstrike on aid convoy in Gaza</div>
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A BRITISH special forces hero and a former Royal Marine were among the three Brits killed in Israel’s “unintentional” airstrike on an aid convoy in Gaza.

They died alongside an Army veteran when their vehicles were blasted in a “triple tap” drone strike.

James Henderson, 33, was travelling in a clearly-marked car when the convoy was hit
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EPA

The burnt-out wreckage of World Central Kitchen’s car – where the aid workers were hit[/caption]

EPA

A burnt out hole in the top of the truck showed where the hit landed – next to the charity logo[/caption]

EPA

Clothes of members of the World Central Kitchen are seen inside their destroyed car along Al Rashid road[/caption]

Former Marine James Henderson, 33, was travelling in a clearly-marked car, operated by charity World Central Kitchen (WCK), when the convoy was struck with three missiles fired by an IDF drone.

A close friend told MailOnline: “Everybody is gutted, he was a lovely lad. He hadn’t been out there long, only a couple of weeks.

“The group he was working for broke the news to the family this morning.”

Seven WCK team members from the UK, Australia, and Poland, dual citizens of the US and Canada, and their Palestinian driver were killed while travelling in a deconflicted zone, WCK said.

Former special forces operator Henderson was a member of the Royal Marines for six years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

After exiting the military in 2016, he worked a series of close personal security jobs before volunteering to work with WCK.

The other British victims are yet to be identified.

IDF troops targeted the cars with a Hermes 450 UAV because they wrongly suspected that Hamas terrorists were using it as cover.

The convoy was travelling along Al-Rashid road between Deir Al Balah and Khan Younis in central Gaza when it was hit.

Another of the three Brits killed had previously worked for the Special Boat Service (SBS), a special forces unit of the British Royal Navy.

Most of its maritime operations are highly classified and focused on counter-terrorism, much like counterpart SAS campaigns on land.

They were travelling with the fleet of WCK vehicles which was in the process of transporting aid in a deconflicted zone.

The charity workers had informed the IDF of their movements so they should have been safe.

Shortly after leaving WCK’s warehouse in central Gaza a missile slammed into one of the vehicles.

The occupants managed to leap out and race to the other two cars.

A second strike quickly followed, taking out another vehicle, and as the third car screeched up to help it was also hit.

One missile slammed squarely into the roof of a car, which was emblazoned with WCK logo, leaving a gaping hole.

A second vehicle was engulfed in flames and was left a burnt out wreck.

The decision to fire on the convoy was made by a unit guarding the aid transport route after troops spotted what they thought was an armed figure entering an aid storage area, according to Israeli media.

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Moments later the three WCK cars drove out of the warehouse with the IDF troops suspecting Hamas terrorists were using it as cover – leading to the deadly “friendly fire” incident.

Netanyahu said today Israeli troops “unintentionally” hit the aid convoy on Monday – but added “this happens in war”.

Local Nael Eliyan was one of the first on the scene after he heard a massive blast.

The Palestinian, currently living in a tent just yards away, sprinted to the wreckage but said nothing could be done to save the seven victims.

He said: “Their injuries were serious and they died quickly.”

As well as the Brits – including the SBS veteran from Poole, in Dorset, and a 33-year-old man from Truro, Cornwall – an Australian, a Polish national and a joint US-Canadian citizen died.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “shocked and saddened” by the incident which triggered outpourings of grief and anger around the world.

Mr Sunak added: “We are asking Israel to investigate what happened urgently, because clearly there are questions that need to be answered.

“My thoughts are with their friends and family.  They are doing fantastic work bringing alleviation to the suffering that many are experiencing in Gaza.

“They should be praised and commended for what they are doing.  They need to be allowed to do that work unhindered and it is incumbent on Israel to make sure they can do that.”

Netanyahu said in a video address today: “Unfortunately, in the last day there was a tragic case of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people in the Gaza Strip.

“This happens in wartime. We are thoroughly looking into it, are in contact with the governments (of the foreigners among the dead) and will do everything to ensure it does not happen again.”

Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom was confirmed dead by her government in Canberra
Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom was confirmed dead by her government in Canberra
Reuters

Polish aid worker Damian Sobol was also killed[/caption]

The volunteers were in two armoured cars branded with the WCK logo after unloading more than 100 tonnes of humanitarian food aid at a warehouse in Deir al-Balah were they were hit on Monday.

Haunting images show bloodied passports of some of the victims – among them a British one – found in the debris.

Charred WCK uniforms were also found in the car wreckage.

The international food charity immediately suspended its operations in the region.

And ships carrying over 200 tonnes of aid to Gaza have been halted in their journey following the assault, Cyprus’ foreign ministry said.

The charity’s president Sean Carroll said its the first time in 56 years that WCF has suspended operations in Palestine.

“This (attack) is really, really hard to stomach, to understand. These are our partners, our friends…it’s very hard, it’s inexplicable, it can’t be justified,” he told the BBC.

“I think the world has to scratch its head and ask really hard questions about how this could happen.”

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Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom was named as one of the seven killed.

And Polish aid worker Damian Sobol was also confirmed dead.

Canada’s foreign minister Melanie Joly this afternoon confirmed the death of a Canadian citizen among the aid workers and said she was “horrified”.

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said: “The news of the airstrike is deeply distressing.

“These were people who were working to deliver life-saving aid to those who desperately need it. It is essential that humanitarian workers are protected and able to carry out their work.

 “We have called on Israel to immediately investigate and provide a full, transparent explanation of what happened.”

Hundreds of Palestinians are also mourning Seif Issam Abu Taha, the driver who died alongside WCF’s aid workers.

His friend Hassan told the BBC: “Our hearts are broken by your death, Seif. You have hurt us with your passing, and we will not forget you.”

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the IDF had “expressed the deepest condolences” to the families of those killed.

WCK chief executive Erin Gore said today: “This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organisations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war.

“This is unforgivable.

“I am heartbroken and appalled that we-World Central Kitchen and the world-lost beautiful lives today because of a targeted attack by the IDF.”

WCK was launched in 2010 and has been active in Gaza ever since Israel declared war on Hamas after the terror group slaughtered more than 1,110 people on October 7.

Devastated WCK founder Jose, said: “I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family. These are people angels.

“No more innocent lives lost.

“Peace starts with our shared humanity. It needs to start now.”

The charity say they have served around 240,000 meals a day – a total of 42 million – and have been central in establishing a maritime aid corridor between Cyprus and Gaza.

A fleet of the WCH vehicles was in the process of transporting aid to the 1.7million Palestinians displaced by the conflict when it was hit.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society recovered the bodies and transported them to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah.

Footage on social media showed several of the aid workers in protective gear bearing the charity’s logo, along with their blood-stained passports.

Their bodies will be transported to Egypt through the Rafah border crossing before being transported back to their home countries.

Additional reporting by Ellie Doughty and Thomas Godfrey

The Sun’s Defence Editor’s analysis of the Middle East tinderbox

By Jerome Starkey, The Sun’s Defence Editor

FEARS that the Middle East could explode into all-out war are ratcheting up today after Iran vowed vengeance for a deadly Israeli missile strike on its embassy in Damascus, the capital of Syria.

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At least 11 people were killed when a consular annex was reduced to rubble by strikes which Iran says were carried out by Israeli F-35 fighter jets.

Now among those 11 killed were two top Iranian generals, Brigadier Mohammed Reza Zahidi, who we understand commanded Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in Syria and neighbouring Iraq, and Brigadier Mohammed Haji Rahimi.

Also among the dead is a representative of the Hezbollah terrorist group Hussein Yusuf.

Both Iran and Hezbollah have vowed vengeance, with Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi saying this strike will not go unanswered.

The suggestion is that perhaps Israel has crossed a threshold with a strike on an embassy.

Embassies are sovereign soil of the nations they belong to, so this was a strike on sovereign Iranian soil in Syria and in one sense it is an escalation and the concerns that this could spiral out are in many ways well founded.

Interestingly today we’ve heard reports in the local media in Syria and in the region that America appears to be distancing itself from this strike, officials saying they had no advanced knowledge.

It would appear that the reason for this missile strike was the meeting between these Revolutionary Guard commanders and the representatives of Hezbollah.

We will now have to wait and see how Iran chooses to take its revenge.

Now of course, if you are an Israeli diplomat living abroad, then you may well think that you are now more of a target.

Because Israel has targeted an Iranian embassy, we may expect to see the possibility that Itan may target Israeli diplomats or missions around the world.

And we have just seen, in the last few days suspected Iranian agents attacking an Iranian journalist here in London.

Tehran is showing, perhaps by this stabbing that it maintains the ability and the capability to attack people it sees as critical of the regime enemies of the regime around the world.

Some context that we understand that Tehran employs criminal proxies to carry out that sort of dirty work doesn’t necessarily have the same sort of sophisticated overseas operations that we might expect of other hostile actors like Russia.

But nonetheless, I think in the wake of what happened in Damascus on Monday, combined with what’s been happening across the region in recent months, there is concern and anxiety to see how Iran responds and what that will elicit from Israel. 

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