May 20, 2024


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Partner of World Central Kitchen worker killed in Gaza speaks out: 'We need the truth about what happened'

Partner of World Central Kitchen worker killed in Gaza speaks out: 'We need the truth about what happened'

The partner of one of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza this week is demanding answers about the deadly attack.

“We need some answers,” Sandy Locklear, the partner of Jacob Flickinger, a dual US-Canadian citizen, told ABC News on Thursday, in her first television interview since the attack. “We need the truth of what happened because this situation is very unclear.”

“Please, Mr. Biden, tell us the truth about what happened,” she asked about President Joe Biden while speaking with ABC News correspondent Phil LeBeouf.

Flickinger, 33, and six other WCK aid workers were killed Monday night when the IDF bombed their convoy of three vehicles, including two armored cars, after leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse in central Gaza, where the aid workers were based. It helped unload more than 100 tons of humanitarian aid brought into Gaza via the sea route, according to a statement earlier this week from WCK.

When asked by LeBeouf what she would say to world leaders, Leclerc called for peace.

Flickinger “was always striving to bring more peace into this world,” Locklear said, and the need to help people was “deep within him.”

“I think we need to bring more peace to this world,” she said.

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Locklear said Flickinger, a Canadian Army veteran and father of a young son, called her every day to say goodnight. On the day of the attack, she did not receive a call from him. Instead, one of his colleagues called her to tell her he had been killed, she said.

“I am devastated by this news,” said an emotional Leclerc. “It was a part of me.”

Locklear said Flickinger was a “loving father to his son” and that she didn't know how to explain to their son that his father was now gone.

“This situation saddens me a lot, but at the same time, Jacob has always been a warrior, and he has always been fighting to bring more peace to this world, so this is what I will explain to him,” she said. “And we will remember every day of our lives… We will always remember how brave he was, and that is what I will tell my child.”

In addition to Flickinger, the WCK aid workers killed in the raid were identified as Palestinian Saif al-Din Issam Ayyad Abu Taha, 25; Damian Sobol, 35, from Poland; Lalzaoumi “Zomi” Frankcom, 43, from Australia.

Three members of WCK's security team were also killed: John Chapman, 57; James (Jim) Henderson, 33; and James Kirby, 47, from Great Britain.

By analyzing ground landmarks in Gaza and satellite imagery, ABC News' visual verification team was able to identify the three WCK vehicles, including two armored vehicles, spread out in different locations about 1.5 miles apart, indicating that the vehicles had been hit by a missile strike. At least three separate strikes.

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The killing of humanitarian workers sparked international condemnation. President Joe Biden said he was “outraged” by the attack, which Israeli officials described as a “terrible mistake.”

In a phone call on Thursday between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden stressed that strikes on humanitarian workers and the overall humanitarian situation were unacceptable, according to a readout of the conversation released by the White House.

Netanyahu said in a statement on Tuesday that “Israel deeply regrets the tragic incident” and that the Israeli army will conduct a “quick and transparent investigation” with the results published.

WCK, a foreign aid organization founded by Chef José Andres, called for an independent and international investigation into the airstrike. The organization described the incident as a “military attack that included multiple strikes,” and claimed that the organization’s vehicles “were targeted.”

“The three vehicles were carrying civilians, were identified as WCK vehicles, and their movements were fully consistent with the Israeli authorities, who were aware of their itinerary, route and humanitarian mission,” WCK said in a statement on Thursday.

One of Netanyahu's senior advisers said that claims that the Israeli strike was intentional were “ridiculous.”

“The last thing we want in the world is to put civilian lives in danger,” Ofir Falk, the adviser, told ABC News on Wednesday.

WCK said Thursday that it had asked Israel to preserve all materials — including documents and communications — that might be relevant to the strike.

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WCK has been working in Gaza for months and said it has provided more than 33 million meals since the beginning of the conflict. The group suspended its operations in the area after the attack. It said on Wednesday that it had not yet determined when it would resume its operations in Gaza.

According to a March report by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, famine is “imminent” in northern Gaza, with the entire population of the Strip suffering from high levels of food insecurity amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

ABC News' Kevin Shalvey contributed to this report.