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Israel issues grovelling apology for killing 3 Brits in Gaza aid convoy including ex-SBS hero, former Marine & Army vet

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ISRAEL’S highest-ranking officer has apologised after his forces killed seven aid workers including three Brits in a huge war blunder.

Herzi Halevi insisted the bombing of the World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers was a “grave mistake” – adding it was the result of “misidentification”.

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
The third Brit has been named as Army veteran James Kirby

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The third Brit has been named as Army veteran James KirbyCredit: 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: EPA
IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi has apologised

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IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi has apologisedCredit: IDF

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

Among the seven killed were three Brits – former Special Boat Service hero John Chapman, 57, ex-Royal Marine James Henderson, 33, and  Army veteran James Kirby, 47. 

Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday admitted Israel was behind the deadly air strike – adding “this happens in war”.

Now Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi has apologised and said the bombing “shouldn’t have happened”.

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

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

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.”

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

They were in a deconflicted zone and had informed the IDF 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.

The car wreckage after the bombing

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The car wreckage after the bombingCredit: Getty
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
The seven victims killed in the disaster

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The seven victims killed in the disaster
Bloodied UK, Polish & Australian passports were found in the wrecked cars

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Bloodied UK, Polish & Australian passports were found in the wrecked carsCredit: AP

One of the victims of the strike, dad-of-three John Chapman, has been hailed a hero by his heartbroken family.

The Special Forces hero, from Poole, had been in Gaza only a few weeks after stints in the Middle East.

His family said: “We are devastated to have lost John, who was killed in Gaza. He died trying to help people and was subject to an inhumane act. He was an incredible father, husband, son and brother.

“We request we be given space and time to grieve appropriately.

“He was loved by many and will forever be a hero. He will be missed dearly”.

A former comrade paid tribute yesterday, 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.”

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

This incident was a grave mistake

IDF chief Herzi Halevi

The charity has worked worldwide, including in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion in 2022.

It has been active in Gaza since Israel declared war on Hamas after the terror group slaughtered more than 1,110 people on October 7.

WCK says it has 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.

The hostilities have meant aid has struggled to reach Palestinians by land, so WCK and Cypriot authorities last month established the first aid delivery by sea.

A second convoy of three ships carrying 400 tons of aid landed on Monday, with the IDF involved in coordinating the delivery.

The WCK vehicles were in the process of transporting that aid to 1.7 million Palestinians forced from their homes by war.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society recovered the bodies of the aid workers and transported them to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah.

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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