Advertisement

Father of US-Canadian aid worker killed in Israeli strike reveals son was days away from leaving Gaza

Father of US-Canadian aid worker killed in Israeli strike reveals son was days away from leaving Gaza

The US-Canadian citizen who was among the seven World Central Kitchen aid workers killed in an IDF airstrike was just days away from leaving Gaza when he died, his grieving father has revealed.

Jacob Flickinger, 33, was killed while he and his colleagues were trying to deliver much-needed food to the people in Gaza amid Israel’s ongoing campaign.

John Flickinger, Jacob’s father, told The Daily Beast about the last time he spoke to his son – and how the father to a small child should have been leaving the conflict zone within a matter of days.

Mr Flickinger said that that his son was planning on heading to Cairo, Egypt, by the end of the week to “reassess what their needs were and how they’re going to proceed”.

“The situation was changing daily on the ground with Israel threatening to attack Rafah,” Mr Flickinger told the outlet.

“That was the last text from him, that he’s going to reassess at the end of the week in Cairo.”

Mr Flickinger said that he never heard from his son again.

Flickinger, who had been volunteering in Gaza since early March to help distribute food to Palestinians, and his colleagues – Saifeddin Issam Ayab Abutaha of Palestine, Lalzawmi Frankcom of Australia, Damian Soból of Poland and UK citizens John Chapman, James Henderson and James Kirby – were travelling in a convoy to deliver food to people in Gaza on Tuesday.

The convoy was hit by an Israeli airstrike, killing all seven workers.

Flickinger is now being remembered as a “loving husband and a new father,” who was based in Costa Rica with his partner Sandy and their one-year-old baby, his father said.

Jacob had a one year old son, who he was “very focused on raising” in Costa Rica (World Central Kitchen/WCK.org/PA Wire)
Jacob had a one year old son, who he was “very focused on raising” in Costa Rica (World Central Kitchen/WCK.org/PA Wire)

Prior to his work in Gaza, Flickinger “dedicated his time” to the World Central Kitchen, previously joining a mission in Mexico, according to a GoFundMe page set up to support Flickinger’s young family.

His father said Flickinger had also previously worked as a personal trainer, a coach and a wilderness guide, and served in Afghanistan with the Canadian military.

Kened Sadiku, a spokesperson for the Canadian Department of National Defence, also told The Independent in a statement that retired Master Corporal Flickinger served with the Canadian Army from 7 April 2008 to 16 October 2019.

His father said that since becoming a parent, the 33-year-old had become “very focused “ on raising his son and starting a new life in Costa Rica, adding that he was “the best friend anyone could ever have”.

“But he loved to work with the World Central Kitchen. He believed in their mission. And when the opportunity came to Gaza, he was hesitant, but the need was so great,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that “there was a tragic incident of an unintended strike of our forces on innocent people in the Gaza Strip,” and that officials would be thoroughly “checking” out what happened and “will do everything for this not to happen again”.

However, World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore released a statement slamming the attack on the aid workers as “unforgivable”.

“This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable,” she said.