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.

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

On 1 April, 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 at St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol on Wednesday 15 May.

Ahead of the service, his mother Jacqui Kirby said: “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.

“I will miss him beyond measure and cannot comprehend a future without his presence.

“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.

John Chapman, James Henderson and James Kirby Credit: World Central Kitchen/PA

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.

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”.

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It prompted US President Joe Biden’s administration to signal for the first time that it might cut military aid to Israel if it did not change its handling of the war and humanitarian aid.

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”.