EX-SOLDIERS SLAIN Brit ex-Royal Marine & special forces hero security team among 7 killed in Israeli airstrike on Gaza aid convoy

AN EX-Royal Marine dad-of-two has been revealed as one of three Brits killed in an "unintentional" airstrike on an aid convoy in Gaza.

The trio, which included a special forces hero, worked for a security company based in Dorset, The Sun can reveal.

Former SBS hero John Chapman, 57, was among the three Brits killed
Former SBS hero John Chapman, 57, was among the three Brits killed
James Henderson, 33, was travelling in a clearly-marked car when the convoy was hit
James Henderson, 33, was travelling in a clearly-marked car when the convoy was hitCredit: Facebook
The burnt-out wreckage of World Central Kitchen's car - where the aid workers were hit
The burnt-out wreckage of World Central Kitchen's car - where the aid workers were hitCredit: EPA
A burnt out hole in the top of the truck showed where the hit landed - next to the charity logo
A burnt out hole in the top of the truck showed where the hit landed - next to the charity logoCredit: EPA

The three men - a special forces hero, a former Royal Marine, and an Army veteran - died when their vehicles were blasted in a "triple tap" drone strike.

They were all working for the security company Solace Global, based in Poole, Dorset.

Special Boat Service (SBS) hero John Chapman, 57, who lived in Poole, and former Marine James Henderson, 33, were 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.

Chapman, a married dad-of-two, had only been in Gaza a matter of weeks after previous stints working in the Middle East.The SBS is 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.

A former comrade yesterday paid tribute to a "brilliant bloke".

He told The Sun: "He was a very well liked guy, a very popular bloke and this is a huge loss for his family, his friends and for the veteran community.

"People trying to deliver aid into Gaza are doing the right thing and they need support and protection from people like John and his colleagues to do their job."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, according to WCK.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is said to be "appalled" by the killing of seven aid workers, including the three Brits, and the White House is "outraged".

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.

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."

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

The convoy was travelling along Al-Rashid road between Deir Al Balah and Khan Younis in central Gaza - and was in the process of transporting aid in a deconflicted zone - when it was hit.

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

A missile slammed into one of the cars shortly after the convoy left WCK's warehouse in central Gaza.

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

But 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 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.

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

Benjamin NetanyahuPrime Minister Of Israel

Moments later, the three WCK cars drove out of the warehouse and the deadly "friendly fire" incident took place.

A Downing Street spokesperson said Mr Sunak spoke to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this evening.

The spokesperson said: "He said he was appalled by the killing of aid workers, including three British nationals, in an airstrike in Gaza yesterday and demanded a thorough and transparent independent investigation into what happened.

"The Prime Minister said far too many aid workers and ordinary civilians have lost their lives in Gaza and the situation is increasingly intolerable.

"The UK expects to see immediate action by Israel to end restrictions on humanitarian aid, deconflict with the UN and aid agencies, protect civilians and repair vital infrastructure like hospitals and water networks."

Mr Sunak reiterated that Israel’s aim of defeating Hamas "would not be achieved by allowing a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza".

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said the deaths of the aid workers were "completely unacceptable" and Israel "must urgently explain how this happened and make major changes to ensure safety of aid workers on the ground".

He added that he had spoken to his Israeli counterpart, Israel Katz, to stress the need for "major changes" to ensure the safety of aid workers.

White House spokesman John Kirby echoed Mr Sunak's and Lord Cameron's sentiments, saying: "We were outraged to learn of an IDF strike that killed a number of civilian humanitarian workers yesterday from the World Central Kitchen."

Earlier today, Netanyahu admitted Israeli troops "unintentionally" hit the aid convoy on Monday - but added "this happens in wartime".

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, an Australian, a Polish national, a US-Canadian dual citizen, and a Palestinian died.

Clothes of members of the World Central Kitchen are seen inside their destroyed car along Al Rashid road
Clothes of members of the World Central Kitchen are seen inside their destroyed car along Al Rashid roadCredit: EPA
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
Polish aid worker Damian Sobol was also killed
Polish aid worker Damian Sobol was also killedCredit: Reuters

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

Haunting images show bloodied passports of some of the victims - among them a British one - and charred WCK uniforms in the debris.

The bodies of the deceased were recovered by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and taken to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah.

It is expected they will be transported to Egypt through the Rafah border crossing and then taken back to their home countries.

The international food charity immediately suspended its operations in Palestine - for the first time in 56 years - following the attack, as ships carrying more than 200 tonnes of aid to Gaza were brought to a stop, according to Cyprus' foreign ministry.

WCK president Sean Carroll told the BBC: "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.

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

Other victims named

Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom, 44, 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".

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 WCK'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."I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family

JoseWCK Founder

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 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.

Additional reporting by Ellie Doughty, Thomas Godfrey, and Jessica Baker

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.

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.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.