Gaza conflict: Foreign Office urgently investigating reports of British aid worker death
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Monday 04 August 2014
The Foreign Office was tonight investigating reports that a British aid worker was killed this weekend in Gaza while delivering medical supplies.
The man, named on social media as Kadir Islam, was claimed to have died in an air strike on the town of Rafah after arriving with one of a number of convoys bringing medical aid into the Occupied Territory.
The Foreign Office said it was “urgently” trying to establish the accuracy of the claimed death of a British national, which could not be independently verified this evening.
Friends posting on Twitter said that Mr Islam originated from London but had recently been based in the Great Manchester area as a student. He was said to have died in a convoy as it drove to a hospital or UN facility in Rafah.
An Israeli missile strike close to the entrance of a United Nations school in Rafah on Sunday, in which 10 people were killed on Sunday, was condemned as a “criminal act” by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Israel said it had been targeting three militants from Islamic Jihad riding a motorbike near the school.
Prime Minister David Cameron underlined that the Government was determined to establish whether the reports of a British fatality were correct.
Speaking on a visit to the Loos Cemetery in northern France to commemorate the start of the First World War, Mr Cameron said: “I’m extremely concerned about these reports and we are doing everything we can to get to the bottom of them and find out exactly what has happened.
“I don’t want to say anything before we’ve been able to do that but this only reinforces the need for an immediate unconditional humanitarian ceasefire, observed properly by both sides. This slaughter, this killing, has got to end.”
Douglas Alexander, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said a partial ceasefire in Gaza was welcome but said the alleged death of a British aid worker served to show that “suffering continues”.
If confirmed, the death of Mr Islam, also known as “Kadz”, would make him the first foreign aid worker or volunteer to have died in the ongoing bombardment.
While Gaza has been effectively cut off during the military operation, convoys of medical supplies have been allowed to cross the border from Israel into Gaza.
Nine Palestinian staff - six of them teachers - with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) in Gaza have been killed since hostilities began in the Occupied Territory last month.
Health officials in Gaza said 1,868 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed and nearly 10,000 injured since Israel’s Operation Protective Edge began four weeks ago. A total of 67 Israelis, all but three of them soldiers, have died. A Thai national working in Israel was also killed by a Hamas rocket.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced that the UK is to provide an extra £2 million in emergency assistance to help provide mattresses, blankets, nappies, cooking equipment and other essential supplies for nearly 8,000 families who have fled the conflict in Gaza.
The cash will be contributed to UNRWA’s Gaza appeal. It brings the UK’s aid funding for Gaza up to £15 million in the last two weeks.
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