World Central Kitchen aid worker’s family calls for an independent probe into the deadly attack

TEL AVIV — The parents of a U.S.-Canadian aid worker killed in Israeli strikes on a World Central Kitchen convoy say they do not have confidence in Israel’s military to fairly investigate and are calling for an independent probe into the attack that claimed the life of their only son.

Jacob Flickinger, 33, was among seven humanitarians with the U.S. charity who were killed in the series of Israeli strikes in central Gaza on Monday night. Their deaths triggered a wave of global criticism and brought new scrutiny on the accuracy of Israel’s strikes in Gaza. 

World Central Kitchen says that the vehicles were clearly marked with its logo, that they were driving in what was supposed to be a deconflicted zone and that they had communicated their movements to the Israeli military ahead of time. 

The Israel Defense Forces has called the killings “a grave mistake” and said it’s launched an investigation. Israel’s top general says that an initial probe indicates the aid vehicles were misidentified in the darkness of night. 

Jacob Flickinger.
Jacob Flickinger.World Central Kitchen via AP

Flickinger’s father, John Flickinger, told NBC News that he does not have confidence in the Israeli military’s investigation and emphasized the need for an independent investigation.

“An independent investigation is needed because aid workers continue to be killed by the IDF,” he said. “They kept firing until every worker was dead. So I think the Israeli government, you know, owes the families at least an apology, but I would say much more.”

Sitting beside his wife, Sylvie Labrecque, John Flickinger grew emotional as he placed his family’s loss in the context of the wider suffering in Gaza. 

“We are two people who have suffered because we’ve lost our only son, but we’re only two. There are thousands and thousands [in Gaza]. Five other World Central Kitchen aid workers were killed in this attack. There were 200 aid workers in Gaza that have been killed,” the grieving father said. 

Flickinger grew up in both the United States and Canada and deployed with the Canadian armed forces to Afghanistan before joining World Central Kitchen as a relief worker. He and his partner have an 18-month-old son and were starting a new life together in Costa Rica. His death echoes the loss of his grandfather, a U.S. fighter pilot who was killed in service.

“I grew up without a father,” John Flickinger said. “So I immediately thought his son growing up again without a father.”

Labrecque said she drew comfort knowing that her son was “very happy to do the work he was doing” and had been driven to help people on the brink of famine in Gaza.

“Oftentimes, I was thinking that there was a strong possibility that he, his life would be short because I knew how intense he was, how passionate he was,” she said.  

Both parents texted Flickinger to wish him a happy Easter Sunday. It was their final communication — he was killed the next day. 

The IDF says the killings are being investigated by a fact-finding assessment mechanism, a military task force headed by a senior general and composed of both active duty and reservist officers. Only officers who were outside the chain of command involved in the attack would be eligible to serve on the task force.