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British aid worker among five feared dead after “Israeli airstrike” in Gaza, including nationals from Ireland, Australia and Poland: IDF launches “high-level” investigation

An apparent Israeli airstrike killed five aid workers after they helped deliver food and other supplies to northern Gaza.

Four international aid workers from the charity World Central Kitchen and their Palestinian driver were killed in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza on Monday when their car was hit, local media reported.

Sources said the workers had just arrived from the north after helping to deliver aid that had arrived on a ship from Cyprus hours earlier.

Harrowing footage shared online appeared to show this Bodies of the five dead at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital. Several of them wore protective gear with the charity’s logo.

A spokesman for the Hamas-led government said those killed included people from Poland, Australia and a British citizen.

The Australian victim was named this morning as Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom, 44, from Melbourne.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has launched a high-level investigation into the incident and reiterated that it has not only “worked closely with the charity” but is also “making extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid.” .

World Central Kitchen has called the loss of life a “tragedy” and said in a statement posted online that “humanitarian workers and civilians should NEVER be targeted. ‘EVER’.

Lalzawmi "Zomi" Frankcom (pictured), 44, from Melbourne, was killed along with three other international aid workers and a Palestinian driver in the central Gaza Strip on Monday while working for the World Central Kitchen charity

Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom (pictured), 44, from Melbourne, was killed along with three other international aid workers and a Palestinian driver in the central Gaza Strip on Monday while working for the World Central Kitchen charity

Palestinians gather around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza, on April 1, 2024.  Many buildings, including the hospital, were badly damaged by air raids

Palestinians gather around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza, on April 1, 2024. Many buildings, including the hospital, were badly damaged by air raids

Palestinians gather around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza, on April 1, 2024

Palestinians gather around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza, on April 1, 2024

Palestinians gather around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital after Israeli forces withdrew from Al-Shifa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza, April 1, 2024

Palestinians gather around the burned and destroyed Al-Shifa Hospital after Israeli forces withdrew from Al-Shifa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza, April 1, 2024

Gaza medical officials say an apparent Israeli airstrike has killed four U.S.-based international aid workers and their Palestinian driver.

The car was hit by an Israeli attack shortly after crossing from the northern Gaza Strip, claimed Mahmoud Thabet, a Palestinian Red Crescent medic who was part of the team that brought the bodies to the hospital.

In a video posted on social media, employees can also be seen showing the passports of three of the dead – British, Australian and Polish. The nationality of the fourth helper was initially not known.

The source of the fire could not be independently confirmed, but the IDF will conduct a “thorough review” of the attack. Israeli National News reported.

The army said in a statement: “Following the reports regarding World Central Kitchen personnel in Gaza today, the IDF is conducting a thorough, high-level review to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident.”

“The IDF is making extensive efforts to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance and is working closely with WCK in its important efforts to provide food and humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.”

The aid ships, which arrived on Monday, carried around 400 tonnes of food and supplies in a shipment organized by the United Arab Emirates and the charity World Central Kitchen, founded by celebrity chef José Andrés.

Last month, a ship delivered 200 tons of relief supplies in a pilot test. The Israeli military was involved in coordinating both deliveries.

The U.S. has touted the sea route as a new way to bring urgently needed aid to the northern Gaza Strip, where several hundred Palestinians face looming famine and are largely cut off from the rest of the territory by Israeli forces.

Israel has banned UNRWA, the main U.N. agency in Gaza, from making deliveries to the north, and other aid groups say sending truck convoys north was too dangerous because the military failed to ensure safe passage guarantee.

On display after the attack are the passports of officials from the U.S.-based international volunteer relief organization World Central Kitchen who were killed in an apparent Israeli airstrike on April 1, 2024

On display after the attack are the passports of officials from the U.S.-based international volunteer relief organization World Central Kitchen who were killed in an apparent Israeli airstrike on April 1, 2024

Ms Frankcom (pictured) worked for the World Central Kitchen charity

Ms Frankcom (pictured) worked for the charity World Central Kitchen

In a photo released by the Israeli army on April 1, 2024, Israeli troops are deployed in the Gaza Strip as fighting with Hamas continues

In a photo released by the Israeli army on April 1, 2024, Israeli troops are deployed in the Gaza Strip as fighting with Hamas continues

In a photo released by the Israeli army on April 1, 2024, an Israeli soldier holds his weapon as he and his troops operate in the Gaza Strip

In a photo released by the Israeli army on April 1, 2024, an Israeli soldier holds his weapon as he and his troops operate in the Gaza Strip

The airstrike came after the Israeli military withdrew from Gaza’s largest hospital early Monday following a two-week assault that engulfed the facility and surrounding districts in fighting.

Footage showed widespread devastation, with the complex’s main buildings reduced to burned-out ruins.

The military called the raid on Shifa Hospital a major battlefield victory in the nearly six-month war, and officials said Israeli troops killed 200 militants in the operation, although the claim that they were all militants could not be confirmed.

The raid came at a time of growing frustration in Israel as tens of thousands protested against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, demanding he do more to bring home dozens of hostages held in Gaza. It was the largest anti-government demonstration since the start of the war.

Elsewhere, Syrian officials and state media said an Israeli airstrike destroyed the Iranian consulate in Syria, killing two Iranian generals and five officers.

The attack appears to mark an escalation in Israeli attacks on Iranian military personnel and their allies in Syria. Attacks have increased since Hamas militants – which are backed by Iran – attacked Israel on October 7.

According to the Syrian state news agency SANA, the Iranian consular building was leveled in the attack, but the main embassy building remained intact.

Israel, which rarely admits to such attacks, said it had no comment. Iranian Ambassador Hossein Akbari vowed revenge for the attack “on the same scale and severity.”

A ship loaded with humanitarian aid is seen off the coast of Gaza City on April 1, 2024, departing from the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus

A ship loaded with humanitarian aid is seen off the coast of Gaza City on April 1, 2024, departing from the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus

A British Ministry of Defense photo dated April 1, 2024 shows humanitarian aid being airdropped over Gaza from an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft

A British Ministry of Defense photo dated April 1, 2024 shows humanitarian aid being airdropped over Gaza from an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft

British forces air-drop more food supplies to civilians in Gaza on April 1, 2024, as part of the operation to alleviate the plight of the Palestinian people

British forces air-drop more food supplies to civilians in Gaza on April 1, 2024, as part of the operation to alleviate the plight of the Palestinian people

Looking to further developments, Netanyahu said he would immediately shut down satellite channel Al Jazeera.

The prime minister vowed to shut down the “terror channel” after Parliament passed a law on Monday allowing the country to stop the Qatari-run channel from broadcasting from Israel.

Netanyahu accused Al Jazeera of endangering Israel’s security, participating in the October 7 Hamas attacks and inciting violence against Israel.

Al Jazeera condemned his comments, calling them “a dangerous and ridiculous lie” and saying they were Netanyahu’s justification “for the ongoing attack” on the media network and press freedom. In a statement, the network promised to continue its reporting with “boldness and professionalism.”

The raid on the hospital destroyed a facility that had once been the heart of Gaza’s health system, but whose doctors and staff had struggled to get back into operation after an earlier Israeli attack in November.

Israel said it launched the latest raid on Shifa because senior Hamas operatives had regrouped there and were planning attacks. Israeli authorities identified six officials from Hamas’ military wing who they said were killed in the hospital raid. Israel also said it seized weapons and valuable intelligence information.

In total, the military claimed to have killed 200 militants inside and outside Shifa, but provided no evidence that they were all militants.

The raid sparked days of fierce fighting for blocks surrounding Shifa. Eyewitnesses reported airstrikes, shelling of houses and troops going from house to house to force residents to leave.

After troops withdrew, hundreds of Palestinians returned to search for lost relatives or survey the damage.

A view of the area as civil defense teams and local residents conduct search and rescue operations following an Israeli army attack on Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, March 31, 2024

A view of the area as civil defense teams and local residents conduct search and rescue operations following an Israeli army attack on Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, March 31, 2024

Palestinians inspect a destroyed shelter tent after an Israeli airstrike near Al-Aqsa Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip city of Deir Al Balah on March 31, 2024

Palestinians inspect a destroyed shelter tent after an Israeli airstrike near Al-Aqsa Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip city of Deir Al Balah on March 31, 2024

A member of the Abul Aoun family checks the rubble of his house, which was destroyed in the Israeli bombing of the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Deir Balah in the central Gaza Strip on March 31, 2024

A member of the Abul Aoun family checks the rubble of his house, which was destroyed in the Israeli bombing of the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Deir Balah in the central Gaza Strip on March 31, 2024

Among the dead were Ahmed Maqadma and his mother – both doctors in Shifa – as well as his cousin, Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta, a Palestinian-British doctor who volunteered in Shifa and other hospitals in the early months of the war before returning to Britain.

The fate of the three was unknown as they were on the phone with their family almost a week ago while trying to leave Shifa and the line was suddenly cut off. On Monday, relatives found their bodies with gunshot wounds about a block from the hospital, said Abu Sitta, who is in contact with the family.

Mohammed Mahdi, who was among those who returned to the area, described a scene of “total destruction.” He said several buildings were burned and he counted six bodies in the area, including two in the hospital’s courtyard, although it was not clear when they died.

Video footage shared online showed that Shifa’s main buildings were charred and heavily damaged. Several witnesses said army bulldozers plowed up a mass grave dug in Shifa’s courtyard in November, leaving many bodies exposed.

At least 21 patients died in the raid, World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus posted late Sunday on X, formerly Twitter.

He said there were over 100 patients still on the premises during the operation, including four children, 28 critical patients and many suffering from infected wounds and dehydration.

The military denied that its forces had harmed civilians at the site. Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes and has raided numerous hospitals across the territory.

Critics accuse the army of recklessly endangering civilians and decimating a health sector already overcrowded with wounded people.

A view of the damaged Musa family building in the Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, March 29, 2024

A view of the damaged Musa family building in the Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, March 29, 2024

A crying woman is hugged by a loved one as she stands near the damaged Musa family building in Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah on March 29, 2024

A crying woman is hugged by a loved one as she stands near the damaged Musa family building in Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah on March 29, 2024

A view of the damaged building in Maghazi refugee camp after Israeli airstrikes in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on March 29, 2024

A view of the damaged building in Maghazi refugee camp after Israeli airstrikes in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on March 29, 2024

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the top military spokesman, said Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group had set up their northern headquarters at the hospital.

He described days of hand-to-hand fighting and blamed Hamas for the destruction. Some fighters barricaded themselves in medical wards while others fired mortar shells into the area.

Hagari said troops arrested about 900 suspected militants in the raid, including more than 500 Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters, and seized over $3 million in various currencies and weapons.

He said the army had evacuated more than 200 of the estimated 300 to 350 patients and provided food, water and medical supplies to the rest. The military said two Israeli soldiers were killed in the attack.

The war began on October 7 when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 250 people hostage.

According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, Israel responded with an air, land and sea offensive that killed at least 32,845 Palestinians, about two-thirds of them women and children. The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its count.

The Israeli military blames civilian casualties on Palestinian militants because they fight in densely populated residential areas.

The war has displaced most of the territory’s population and pushed a third of its residents to the brink of starvation. The northern Gaza Strip, where Shifa is located, has been heavily devastated and has been largely isolated since October, causing widespread starvation.

U.N. vehicles drive past a destroyed car on a street in Gaza City on April 1, 2024

U.N. vehicles drive past a destroyed car on a street in Gaza City on April 1, 2024

Pictured, British forces are seen loading Container Delivery Systems (CDS) with humanitarian aid before being airdropped over Gaza by an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft

Pictured, British forces are seen loading Container Delivery Systems (CDS) with humanitarian aid before being airdropped over Gaza by an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft

Army personnel from 47 Air Despatch Squadron loaded relief supplies from Jordan and the UK onto an RAF A400M Atlas from RAF Brize Norton.  7,000 kg of relief supplies were dropped in the northern Gaza Strip

Army personnel from 47 Air Despatch Squadron loaded relief supplies from Jordan and the UK onto an RAF A400M Atlas from RAF Brize Norton. 7,000 kg of relief supplies were dropped in the northern Gaza Strip

Meanwhile, a second shipment of food aid arrived by sea from the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus as part of the latest test of a new sea route. One of the three boats could be seen off the coast and Cyprus’s foreign minister said they had been given permission to unload. The exact delivery mechanism was not yet clear.

Netanyahu has vowed to continue the offensive until Hamas is destroyed and all hostages are freed. He says Israel will soon expand its ground operations to the southern city of Rafah, where around 1.4 million people – more than half of Gaza’s population – have sought refuge.

But he is facing increasing pressure from Israelis who blame him for the Oct. 7 security failures and from some of the hostages’ families who blame him for failing to do so despite several weeks of talks mediated by the United States, Qatar and Egypt agreement could be reached. Allied countries, including the United States, the main backer, have warned him against invading Rafah.

Hamas and other militants are believed to still be holding about 100 hostages and the remains of 30 more hostages, after releasing most of the rest as part of a ceasefire last November in exchange for the release of Palestinians detained by Israel .

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