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At the National Cathedral, a memorial honors 7 aid workers killed by Israeli airstrike in Gaza

Jose Andres, the nonprofit's founder, has called for an independent investigation into the strikes that killed his colleagues.
Chef Jose Andres
Posted at 6:02 PM, Apr 25, 2024

Inside a place that's hosted presidents and royals, hundreds gathered within the National Cathedral in Washington to honor the lives of seven people who gave their lives trying to help those in need.

The World Central Kitchen aid workers — killed during an Israeli airstrike on their convoy — were remembered by the nonprofit's founder, Chef Jose Andres, as individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice.

"The seven souls we mourn today were there so hungry people could eat: Saifeddin Abutaha, John Chapman, Jacob Flickinger, Zomi Frankcom, Jim Henderson, James Kirby and Damian Sobol. They risked everything to feed people they did not know," said Andres.

Israeli officials called the airstrike "a mistake," and the Israel Defense Forces fired two senior officers after the attack.

Andres has been a vocal critic of Israel's blockade of aid to Gaza and has called for an independent investigation into the strikes that killed the aid workers.

"I know we all have many unanswered questions about what happened and why. There is no excuse for these killings. None. The official explanation is not good enough. We still demand an independent investigation into the actions of the IDF against our team," Andres said. "Even one innocent life taken is one too many."

Among those lost: 33-year-old Jacob Flickinger, a dual American-Canadian citizen described by Andres as "a leader," along with citizens of the U.K., Australia, Poland and a Palestinian.

"They were the best of humanity," Andres said. "Their example should inspire us to do better, to be better."

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff, along with senators and diplomats, attended the service, where famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma also performed.

The memorial service included clergy from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths — a reflection of the faiths from the region where the aid workers died and where a war still rages.