Aid worker death transparency in Israeli interest: Wong

Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom died in an Israeli air strike while delivering food in Gaza.

Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom died in an Israeli air strike while delivering food in Gaza. Photo: AAP

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has stressed it’s in Israel’s best interest to ensure any investigation into the deaths of multiple aid workers last week is transparent.

Seven aid workers, including Australian Zomi Frankcom, were killed during the Israeli Defence Force strikes on a World Central Kitchen convoy in early April as they were delivering food in Gaza.

Former defence force chief Mark Binskin has been appointed by the federal government as a special adviser to Australia on Israel’s investigation of the incident.

Wong said while there had been “positive engagements” so far about the investigation, she wants as much accountability from Israel as possible.

“My focus at the moment is to engage with the Israeli government to ensure that there is transparency and accountability,” she told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

“It is in Israel’s interests for the Australian government, the Australian community to be satisfied that there has been transparency and accountability.”

Wong and Defence Minister Richard Marles have written a letter to the Israeli government urging that action be taken against Israel Defence Forces personnel who did not act within the law.

However, Israel was yet to respond to the letter.

As the conflict in the Middle East enters its seventh month, the foreign minister has urged greater social cohesion within Australian Jewish and Muslim communities.

“We need to be less condemnatory, more respectful of one another, people are increasingly struggling with how to discuss this with their fellow citizens,” she said.

“The behaviours that we have seen, the distress that we have seen, are really problematic for our community.”

On Tuesday, Wong again warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to carry out a planned ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which is the enclave’s last refuge for displaced Palestinians.

“Again we say, do not go down this path,” Wong said.

The conflict in Gaza was triggered by Hamas’ cross-border attack in southern Israel on October 7 which left 1200 people dead, according to Israeli tallies, and more than 250 people taken hostage.

More than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict that followed, Gaza’s health ministry says.

Most of the enclave’s 2.3 million people are homeless and many are at risk of starvation.


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