Israel blames ‘misidentification’ for deadly aid worker strike

'Misidentification' behind deadly attack

Source: Israel Defence Forces

The charity whose workers, including an Australian, were killed in an Israeli air strike has halted Gaza aid deliveries as harrowing details emerge about the deaths.

Zomi Frankcom, who has been remembered as a selfless and outstanding person, was among seven World Central Kitchen charity workers killed while delivering food to Palestinians on Monday.

WCF chief executive Erin Gore described the “unforgivable” attack as one against all humanitarian organisations, with food being used as a “weapon of war”.

A “heartbroken” Gore said the strike was a “targeted attack by the IDF”, and that WCH had coordinated its movements with the Israeli Defence Forces.

WCK and several other charities have paused operations in Gaza since the deaths. The decision puts humanitarian aid in the war-torn region into doubt.

Pressure is also mounting on Israel, which has blamed “misidentification” for the attack.

“The strike was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers,” Israel Defence Forces chief-of-staff Lieutenant-General Herzi Halevi said in a video statement on Wednesday, after being presented with preliminary findings from an inquiry into the incident.

“It was a mistake that followed a misidentification – at night, during a war, in very complex conditions. It shouldn’t have happened.”

australia aid worker gaza

Zomi Frankcom and six other aid workers died in the Israel attack. Photo: LinkedIn

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese spoke with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday morning.

“I expressed Australia’s anger and concern at the death of Zomi Frankcom,” he said.

Albanese said Netanyahu had 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,” he said.

British PM Rishi Sunak has also spoken to Netanyahu, describing the situation in Gaza as “increasingly intolerable”. He demanded “a thorough and transparent independent investigation” into the killing of the aid workers, who included Britons John Chapman, James Henderson and James Kirby.

The others to die were dual US-Canadian citizen Jacob Flickinger, Pole Damian Sobol and Palestinian Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha.

Israel has apologised for what Netanyahu called an “unintended strike”.

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

“This happens in war. We will do everything to prevent a recurrence.”

But reports are emerging that the attack on the humanitarian convoy of three vehicles might have been deliberate.  An al-Jazeera investigation has claimed the attacks were intentional.

The New York Times said it had verified video and photos that suggested the convoy was hit multiple times. Photos show three destroyed white vehicles, with the northernmost and southernmost vehicles about two kilometres apart.

The World Central Kitchen logo is clearly seen on all vehicles, along with charred items in two of them.

The US, Israel’s closest ally, said that there was no evidence Israel deliberately targeted the aid workers but that it was outraged by their deaths. The White House said it expected a broad and impartial investigation to be carried out with appropriate accountability.

PM speaks to Netanyahu

Source: X/Anthony Albanese

On Wednesday, Albanese deflected questions about whether his government was considering expelling Israel’s top diplomat in Australia ambassador Amir Maimon.

Maimon has been summoned by the foreign affairs department.

But as relations with Israel sink to a new low, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said she told her Israeli counterpart on Tuesday Australians were “outraged” by Frankcom’s death.

“I made clear that we believe the death of any aid worker is unacceptable, and frankly, outrageous,” she told Nine’s Today Show on Wednesday.

“I made clear we expect a full, thorough transparent inquiry and explanation and we expect full accountability.”

Wong said the government would not “back away” from its strong advocacy for accountability.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton also expressed his prayers and condolences to Frankcom’s family, but maintained the deaths of innocents ultimately stemmed from Hamas.

“It’s a tragic circumstance,” he said in Sydney.

“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.”

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.

Frankcom’s family says they are 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.”

-with AAP

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