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Jacob Flickinger’s parents search for answers after unintentional strike kills World Central Kitchen aid workers

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The parents of Jacob Flickinger, a U.S.-Canadian dual national and humanitarian aid worker who was one of seven people killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza on Monday, said they are still waiting to hear from government officials with more information about the last moments of their son’s life and dispute claims that his killing was accidental. Flickinger, 33, was named by World Central Kitchen, a food charity founded by Spanish-American celebrity chef José Andrés, as a victim in the airstrike.

Despite the chaos surrounding his death, Jacob Flickinger’s parents say their last official update came directly from the Embassy in Jerusalem on the day their son was killed. Struggling with grief and unanswered questions, they have turned to news outlets for information. 

“We haven’t been told anything by the United States government or the Canadian government,” said John Flickinger, Jacob’s father. “All we know is what we’ve read and seen on the media.”

The circumstances surrounding Jacob’s death remain a point of mystery and sorrow for his family. The other WCK staff members killed in the attack, which Israel’s military has called a “grave mistake,” have been identified as Palestinian, British, Polish and Australian nationals. It appears their three-vehicle convoy was hit by several successive missile strikes, despite the non-profit group having coordinated the team’s movements with the Israel Defense Forces.

“They were aware, the entire world was aware, this food shipment was coming in,” John Flickinger said. “It’s been international news for days. They were aware the food was picked up at the ship on the coast of Gaza and delivered to a warehouse along an approved humanitarian route approved by Israel. Soon after they dropped the food off, we know they were targeted. The convoy was clearly marked. The vehicles were clearly marked. The facts on the ground seemed to indicate it wasn’t a ‘tragic accident.'”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the accident was not intentional. But Andrés says his World Central Kitchen charity’s team in the Gaza Strip appears to have been deliberately targeted by the Israeli military.

“So if it was a terrible mistake, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt,” said John Flickinger. “Then the Israeli military is extremely incompetent. And the leaders that are running this campaign are incompetent, because this is not the first aid convoy or group that has been accidentally killed.”

Jacob’s mother, Sylvia, described him as an “exceptional human being” who was deeply passionate about his work. Having served 11 years in the Canadian Forces, Jacob continued to undertake special missions, even after leaving the military.

Flickinger, who was married, was hesitant to make the trek to Gaza because the couple has an 18-month-old son, but Jacob felt a strong responsibility to contribute to global humanitarian efforts. He had previously worked with WCK in Mexico following a devastating hurricane, and was drawn to continue his efforts with the organization in Gaza.

“We’ll never be able to stop his passion. That’s where his heart was. And he gave it all, all the way till the end,” said his mother, Sylvia Labrecque.

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