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Family of Brit ex-Army sniper James Kirby killed in Gaza airstrike pay tribute to hero who ‘died trying to save others’

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THE heartbroken family of one of three Brits accidentally killed by Israel have described him as a “genuine gentleman” in an emotional tribute.

Former Army sniper James Kirby, 47, died when a car convoy he was travelling in with other World Central Kitchen workers was bombed in Gaza.

James Kirby was killed in Gaza

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James Kirby was killed in GazaCredit: wck.org
The aid vehicle that was struck in the attack in Deir al-Balah

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The aid vehicle that was struck in the attack in Deir al-BalahCredit: Reuters

Aid workers from the charity were delivering aid on Monday when their three-car convoy was “unintentionally” hit by Israeli drone missiles.

James was killed alongside six others, including two Brits – former Special Boat Service hero John Chapman, 57, and ex-Royal Marine James Henderson, 33.

His devastated family said they are “incredibly proud of who James was and what he achieved”, adding he will be remembered as a “hero”.

They told the BBC: “Despite the risks, his compassionate nature drove him to offer assistance to those in dire need.

“A genuine gentleman, James was always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone, even in the face of senseless violence.

“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.”

James previously served as a sniper marksman and rifleman for the British Army.

He described himself as able to maintain “a calm demeanor under extreme pressure, including life-threatening situations” on his LinkedIn page.

Under his experience, James listed he had previously provided security at the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix.

Most recently, the army veteran worked as a security consultant for “risk management and security specialists” Solace Global.

‘Unintentional’ IDF air strike that killed 3 Brits was ‘a terrible accident’ says ex soldier

Meanwhile another victim of the strike, Special Forces hero John Chapman, was last night described as a “very popular bloke”.

The dad, from Poole, had only been in Gaza a few weeks.

A former comrade paid tribute, saying: “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.”

A friend of Mr Henderson, of Truro, Cornwall, said: “Everybody is gutted, he was a lovely lad. He’d been there a few weeks.”

The three Brits worked for security firm Solace Global and were delivering food for US-based aid agency World Central Kitchen.

They were in a deconflicted zone and had informed Israel Defense Forces of their movements so should have been safe.

But shortly after setting off from an aid warehouse in the Gaza city of Deir al-Balah they were hit on the coastal Al Rashid road.

Israeli media said an IDF unit believed they had seen an armed figure entering the warehouse.

Suspecting Hamas terrorists were using the convoy as cover, they fired on the WCK cars — two armoured and one soft-skin vehicle.

John Chapman, former SBS hero, was among three Brits killed in an air strike while delivering aid in Gaza

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John Chapman, former SBS hero, was among three Brits killed in an air strike while delivering aid in GazaCredit: Reuters
Ex-Royal Marine James Henderson was also killed

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Ex-Royal Marine James Henderson was also killedCredit: wck.org
World Central Kitchen signs are clearly visible on the motor 'unintentionally' hit by Israeli drone missiles

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World Central Kitchen signs are clearly visible on the motor ‘unintentionally’ hit by Israeli drone missilesCredit: Getty

Along with three Brits, the other victims were Polish, Australian, a Palestinian driver and a dual US-Canadian citizen.

Israel’s high-ranking officer has since apologised after his forces killed the seven aid workers.

He insisted: “Israel is at war with Hamas, not the people of Gaza.”

Halevi said the strike happened in “complex conditions” – but offered no further insight.

He said: “This incident was a grave mistake.

“I want to be very clear – the strike was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers.

“It was a mistake that followed a misidentification – at night during a war in very complex conditions. It shouldn’t have happened.”

Halevi said IDF said a probe had been launched into the bombing and the conclusion would be implemented immediately – and shared with WCK.

He added: “We will continue taking immediate actions to ensure that more is done to protect humanitarian aid workers.”

PM Rishi Sunak last night told Netanyahu he was appalled by the strike and said Israel’s aim of defeating Hamas would not be achieved by allowing a humanitarian disaster.

He added: “We are asking Israel to investigate what happened urgently.

“Clearly there are questions that need to be answered.”

The seven victims killed in the disaster

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The seven victims killed in the disaster

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. 

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