Israel special adviser named after aid worker death

Mark Binskin will provide advice on Israel's response to the Israel Defence Force strikes.

Mark Binskin will provide advice on Israel's response to the Israel Defence Force strikes. Photo: AAP

A former chief of the Australian Defence Force has been named as a special adviser to the federal government on Israel.

Retired Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin will provide advice on Israel’s response to the Israel Defence Force strikes that killed Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom and six of her World Central Kitchen colleagues.

“ACM Binskin will engage with Israel and the Israel Defence Forces on the response to the attack which killed Zomi and her colleagues,” Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said on Monday.

“Australia has made clear to the Israeli government our expectation and trust that this engagement will be facilitated.”

Some of the issues that will be considered include arrangements for the investigation of the incident, IDF policies and procedures for operational incidents and measures taken to hold those responsible to account.

The special adviser will also engage on whether further investigations are warranted and measures adopted to prevent such incidents from happening again.

“The special adviser will provide advice to the Australian government regarding any further representations or actions that could be taken to ensure a full and transparent investigation and to hold those responsible to account,” Wong said.

Air Chief Marshal Binskin was ADF chief from 2014 to 2018. He is chair of the Civil Aviation Authority and the Pacific Security College.

Frankcom and her colleagues died in an air strike in Gaza last week.

An initial IDF inquiry released on Friday found Israeli forces mistakenly believed they were attacking Hamas gunmen when drones hit the three vehicles of the World Central Kitchen aid group.

“The strike on the aid vehicles is a grave mistake stemming from a serious failure due to a mistaken identification, errors in decision-making and an attack contrary to the Standard Operating Procedures,” the Israeli military said.

Two IDF officers have been dismissed and other senior commanders have been formally reprimanded.

Meanwhile, four Australian faith, humanitarian and health groups are calling on the government to sanction Israeli officials who have advocated denying aid to Gaza, after Israel declaimed war on Hamas in October.

The Australian Council for International Development, Australian Global Health Alliance, National Council of Churches in Australia and Australian National Imams Council also demanded the government end trade for military purposes between Australian and Israeli companies.

Australian Council for International Development chief executive Marc Purcell said the world was witnessing a man-made, preventable famine in Gaza and “it will have a permanent stain on all our collective humanity”.

He pointed to high-ranking Israeli officials as publicly expressing their aim to deprive civilians in Gaza of food, water and fuel.

“As the world watched in horror and condemned unequivocally the militant attacks on Israel on October 7, so now do we unequivocally condemn the use of starvation of the Palestinian people as a weapon of war against them,” Purcell said.

“The deliberate prevention of aid convoys, including the United Nations, from reaching people in the north of Gaza, is a complete and total violation of international humanitarian law which must be condemned with tangible punishment attached.”

Intergenerational conflicts in the Middle East region involving Palestinians and Israelis escalated on October 7 when Islamist militants linked to Hamas attacked southern Israel from Gaza.

More than 1200 people died and up to another 200 were taken hostage, according to the United Nations.

Israel’s subsequent military action has resulted in the deaths of more than 32,000 people in Gaza, with the UN citing unconfirmed data provided by the local ministry of health and Gaza government media office.

More than two million people in Gaza are almost completely reliant on aid shipments almost six months into Israel’s devastating siege and invasion of the territory triggered by Hamas’ cross-border attack.

-AAP, with Reuters

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