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Mothers pay tribute to ‘remarkable’ son killed in Gaza

image source, Family photo

image caption, James Kirby was working for the charity World Central Kitchen when he was killed

  • Author, Harriet Robinson and PA Media
  • Role, BBC News, West of England

The mother of a British aid worker killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza says she “can’t fathom a future without his presence”.

Ahead of his funeral service in Bristol on Wednesday, his mother Jacqui Kirby said he was a “remarkable man”.

In a statement released through Avon and Somerset Police, she added: “I cannot express my deepest gratitude for the outpouring of love we have seen over the weeks since his tragic death in Gaza.”

“Loved by so many”

Her tribute read: “James was a remarkable man, a true friend to so many people and most of all he was my son.

“I will miss him immensely and cannot fathom a future without him.”

Mrs Kirby said he was “very comforted” knowing he died doing something that mattered to him “and knowing he was loved by so many people from all walks of life”.

In the fatal incident, armed Israeli drones fired ammunition at three marked vehicles in the WCK convoy as it left one of the aid group’s depots in Deir al-Balah, south of Gaza City.

Britons John Chapman, 57, and James “Jim” Henderson, 33, were also killed in the attack.

All three British nationals were repatriated.

image source, Family sheet

image caption, James Kirby’s funeral will be held in Bristol on Wednesday

The men, who were part of WCK’s security team, were traveling with a convoy that had just unloaded more than 100 tonnes of much-needed food aid brought in from overseas, according to the charity.

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

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

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