IDF chief says killing of World Central Kitchen workers was ‘grave mistake’

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IDF chief says killing of World Central Kitchen workers was ‘grave mistake’

Herzi Halevi says Israeli airstrike that killed seven people, including three Britons, was result of ‘misidentification’

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Head of the Israeli Defence Forces, Lt Gen Herzi Halevi, expressed remorse over the killings and called the event a "grave mistake."
Head of the Israeli Defence Forces, Lt Gen Herzi Halevi, expressed remorse over the killings and called the event a "grave mistake."

IDF chief of staff Herzi Halevi has issued an apology for the tragic strike on an aid convoy that killed seven people, including three Brits.

In a filmed message, Halevi insisted the killing of the World Central Kitchen workers was a “grave mistake” – adding it was the result of “misidentification”.

The three Britons killed in Monday’s strike by Israeli strike on the convoy leaving a warehouse in Deir al-Balah, south of Gaza City were named as  John Chapman, 57, James Henderson, 33, and James Kirby, 47.

Attempting to explain Israeli actions, Halevi said:“Last night, seven employees of the World Central Kitchen were killed.

“WCK is an organisation whose people work across the globe, including in Israel to do good in difficult conditions.

“The IDF works together closely with the World Central Kitchen and greatly appreciates the important work that they do.”

Halevi added:”“This incident was a grave mistake. Israel is at war with Hamas, not with the people of Gaza.

“We are sorry for the unintentional harm to the members of WCK. We share in the grief of their families as well as the entire World Central Kitchen organisation from the bottom of our hearts.”

“We see great importance in the continued delivery of humanitarian aid, and we will keep working to facilitate this vital effort.”

He said that the IDF has already completed its preliminary probe into the strike and that the findings were shared with him at the IDF’s Southern Command base.

Halevi confirmed Israel had worked closely in the past with WCK, with the charity distributing aid in Southern Israel after the October 7th Hamas terror attack.

The British nationals were working for Dorset-based Solace Global as part of WCK’s security team.

They were travelling with a convoy that had just unloaded more than 100 tonnes of food aid brought from overseas, according to the charity.

Kirby, who was born in Bristol, had toured Bosnia and Afghanistan with the British Armed Forces before moving into work as a security consultant.

“James was always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone, even in the face of senseless violence,” his family said in a statement.

“James lost his life trying to save others, he will never know what a void he has left, our family will never be the same.”

Paying tribute to the victims, WCK chief executive Erin Gore said she was “heartbroken and appalled” at the “beautiful lives” lost in the attack.

The charity’s founder, celebrity chef José Andrés, said the victims were “angels” and called on Israel to stop its “indiscriminate killing”.

Humanitarian aid to Gaza has been plunged into doubt after WCK, a key provider of aid to the Strip, suspended its operations in the region.

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