Mother pays tribute to ‘remarkable’ British aid worker killed in Israeli strike

The mother of a British aid worker killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza has paid tribute to her “remarkable” son ahead of his funeral on Wednesday.

James Kirby, 47, was one of seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers killed in the attack including two other Britons.

On April 1 this year Israeli armed drones fired munitions through marked vehicles in the WCK convoy as it left one of the aid group’s warehouses.

Mr Kirby’s funeral will be held in Bristol and ahead of the service his mother, Jacqui Kirby, said in a statement released by Avon and Somerset Constabulary: “As we gather for the funeral service at St Mary’s Redcliffe, to celebrate the life of my son, James, I cannot express more deeply my gratitude for the outpouring of love I have seen over the weeks since his tragic death in Gaza.

“James was a remarkable man, a true friend to so many people and, above all, he was my son.

James “Jim” Henderson
Briton James ‘Jim’ Henderson was one of the World Central Kitchen aid workers killed in the strike in Gaza (World Central Kitchen/PA)

“But, I take great comfort from knowing he died doing something that really mattered to him, and the knowledge that he was loved by so many people from all walks of life.”

Labour MP Kerry McCarthy told the Commons last month that Ms Kirby is one of her Bristol East constituents.

She said to Foreign Office minister David Rutley: “The family want answers and I’d really appreciate it if the minister could tell the Foreign Secretary while he’s in the region, pass that message on from the family – they want answers.”

Britons John Chapman, 57, and James “Jim” Henderson, 33, were also killed in the attack and all three British citizens have been repatriated.

Also killed were the relief team’s leader, Australian national Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom, 43; dual American-Canadian citizen Jacob Flickinger, 33; Polish national Damian Sobol, 35; and their driver, Palestinian Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, 25.

A memorial for the relief team was held at the National Cathedral in Washington DC at the end of April.

Jose Andres, the celebrity chef who founded WCK, told more than 500 mourners that their staff risked everything “to feed people they did not know and will never meet” and that there is no excuse for the killings.

London and other Western capitals condemned the strike with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak telling his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu that he was “appalled” and that the situation in Gaza is “increasingly intolerable”.

Israel-Hamas conflict
John Chapman, one of the British aid workers killed in Gaza (World Central Kitchen/PA)

Last week the administration said Israel’s use of US-provided weapons in Gaza likely violated international humanitarian law but that it could not link specific US weapons to individual attacks.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) dismissed two officers and reprimanded three others over the incident, calling it a “serious mistake”.

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