PM wants answers over killing of Australian aid worker

April 3, 2024 03:31 | News

Israel has been asked to explain how an Australian aid worker was killed in an air strike on Gaza, as family and friends remember Zomi Frankcom as selfless and courageous.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has requested to speak directly with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu over the killing, after the nation’s top envoy apparently declined a meeting.

“The Israeli ambassador is not well today,” Mr Albanese said on ABC’s 7.30 program on Tuesday night.

“There have been calls put in by the foreign minister to her counterpart and I have put in a request to Prime Minister Netanyahu as well, to speak with him directly.”

The Israeli military said on Tuesday night the incident would be investigated by an “independent, professional and expert body”.

“Unfortunately in the past day there was a tragic event in which our forces unintentionally harmed non-combatants in the Gaza Strip,” Mr Netanyahu said in a video statement released overnight.

“This happens in war. We are conducting a thorough inquiry and are in contact with the governments. We will do everything to prevent a recurrence.”

Some groups are calling for Australia to take stronger action in response to Ms Frankcom’s death.

Ms Frankcom, who worked with World Central Kitchen, was among seven charity workers killed while delivering food to Palestinians.

Mr Albanese earlier described the deaths as “completely unacceptable” and said his government wanted answers.

“Those doing humanitarian work and civilians need to be provided with protection,” he told reporters.

“We want full accountability for this. This is a tragedy that should never have occurred.”

The Australian Palestine Advocacy Network said the deaths of humanitarian workers were not just a tragedy, but a crime.

The group urged the prime minister to expel the ambassador and impose sanctions on Israel.

The Jewish Council of Australia, which has been outspoken against aspects of Israel’s war in Gaza, called for concrete action saying all that was missing was political will.

“It is clear that Israel will not listen to the international community until there are consequences for its actions,” executive director Max Kaiser said.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong echoed the prime minister’s remarks, saying the death of any aid worker is “outrageous and unacceptable”.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a post on X he sent his condolences to the countries and families of the aid workers killed in the Gaza Strip.

Ms Frankcom’s family members said they were reeling from the shock.

“She was a kind, selfless and outstanding human being that has travelled the world helping others in their time of need,” they said in a statement..

“She will leave behind a legacy of compassion, bravery and love for all those in her orbit.”

Shattered friends began paying tribute to the slain aid worker who “risked her life many times to help those in dire need”.

World Central Kitchen chief executive Erin Gore described the “unforgivable” attack as one against all humanitarian organisations where food was being used as a “weapon of war”.

The charity paused its operations in Gaza as a result of the deaths.

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