Inner East Review

Anger over aid worker's killing expressed to Israeli PM

By Tess Ikonomou and Kat Wong
Updated April 3 2024 - 4:00pm, first published 3:57pm
Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom died in an Israeli air strike while delivering food in Gaza. (HANDOUT/SUPPLIED)
Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom died in an Israeli air strike while delivering food in Gaza. (HANDOUT/SUPPLIED)

Anthony Albanese has expressed the nation's anger at the killing of an Australian aid worker in Gaza to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demanding full transparency and accountability over the death.

Zomi Frankcom, 43, who has been remembered as selfless and courageous, was among seven charity workers killed in an Israeli air strike while delivering food to Palestinians.

Mr Albanese spoke with Israel's leader on Wednesday morning.

"I expressed Australia's anger and concern at the death of Zomi Frankcom," he told reporters.

The prime minister said Mr Netanyahu committed to "full transparency" and a thorough investigation.

"The Israeli government has accepted responsibility for this and Prime Minister Netanyahu conveyed his condolences to the family of Zomi Frankcom and to Australia as a result of this tragedy," Mr Albanese said.

The prime minister deflected questions about whether he was considering expelling Israel's ambassador to Australia.

Asked about potential consequences if the investigation was deemed unsatisfactory, he did not provide a direct response.

Israel Defence Forces boss Herzi Halevi said the air strike "shouldn't have happened".

"It was a mistake that followed a misidentification," he said in a video message.

The United Nations Security Council voted for an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan in late March but Israel has continued to bomb Gaza.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton expressed his condolences to Ms Frankcom's family, but maintained the deaths of innocents ultimately stemmed from Hamas.

"It's a tragic circumstance," he told reporters.

"The consequences we see, where innocent people are losing their lives in the Middle East, are a direct result of Hamas's attacks on the 7th of October."

Foreign Minister Penny Wong expressed Australia's outrage during a conversation with her Israeli counterpart.

"I made clear that we believe the death of any aid worker is unacceptable, and frankly, outrageous," she said.

Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon has been summoned to a meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Ahead of the meeting, the ambassador released a statement saying he was "deeply saddened" by the deaths.

"Israel will thoroughly investigate this tragedy to guarantee the safety and security of aid workers in Gaza," Mr Maimon said.

Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi joined more than 100 protesters at a rally in Melbourne's CBD in response to Ms Frankcom's death.

"We have Western governments including the Australian governments who just keep on supporting this genocide with impunity," she said.

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

They urged the government to expel the Israeli ambassador and impose sanctions on Tel Aviv.

Ms Frankcom's family 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.

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 has paused its operations in Gaza.

More than 30,000 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed since Israel declared war on Hamas in retaliation to the October 7 attack when Hamas militants killed 1200 Israelis and took more than 200 hostages.

Israel's bombing campaign has since displaced at least 1.7 million Palestinians and many more are starving as Tel Aviv throttles aid into northern Gaza.

Australian Associated Press