Creating new perspectives since 2009

Australia Premier seeks phone call with Netanyahu over aid worker’s killing, no contact yet

April 2, 2024 at 1:52 pm

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia on March, 13, 2023 [Tayfun Coşkun/Anadolu Agency]

Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, said Tuesday he sought direct communication with his Israeli counterpart over the killing of aid workers in Gaza, while there has been no contact yet, Anadolu Agency reports.

“I have put in a request to Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu as well to speak with him directly,” Albanese told ABC News during an interview, when asked whether Canberra had reached out to Tel Aviv in the wake of the killing of seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) members, including an Australian citizen.

Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom, an Australian aid worker, was among the seven killed while working for the World Central Kitchen.

The other aid workers were from Poland, the UK and Palestine, and another was a dual citizen of the US and Canada, who were killed on Monday in an Israeli airstrike on their vehicle in Deir Al-Balah city in the central Gaza Strip.

“No,” Albanese replied, when asked whether he had spoken to Netanyahu, when this story was filed.

READ: US, UK, Australia citizens killed in Israel strike on aid convoy in Gaza

The Australian Premier, however, said Canberra had put on notice the Israeli ambassador to Australia who “isn’t well today”.

Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, has “put in” calls to her Israeli counterpart, too, he added.

Calling Frankcom’s killing a “loss for our nation,” Albanese said Australia stands for a political solution to the conflict with an independent Palestinian State alongside Israel.

Albanese reiterated Australia’s demand for accountability from Israel over the killing of the Australian aid worker.

“Australia expects full accountability for the deaths of aid workers, which is completely unacceptable,” Albanese said.

‘Governments are responsible for actions’ they take

Photos emerging on Palestinian social media accounts showed the passports of the foreigners who were killed in the airstrike, including from Australia, Poland and the UK, as well as dead bodies with WCK T-shirts.

Albanese said he conveyed his condolences over the “tragic loss” to her family and friends during a call with Frankcom’s brother.

“Aid workers and those doing humanitarian work and, indeed, all innocent civilians need to be provided with protection,” he stressed.

“The truth is that this is beyond any reasonable circumstance that someone going about, providing aid and humanitarian assistance should lose their life. There were four aid workers as well as a Palestinian driver in this vehicle,” the Prime Minister added.

“This is a human tragedy that should never have occurred, that is completely unacceptable.”

When pressed on how Canberra would respond to Israeli bombing in Gaza, Albanese said: “We are not responsible for all of the actions of Netanyahu government.”

READ: Israel sending more children ‘to their graves’ after denying food aid to northern Gaza

“Governments are responsible for actions” they take and “this (attack) is completely unacceptable,” Albanese responded when asked if Canberra had information whether the vehicle of the aid workers was “targeted”.

Albanese acknowledged that most of Palestinians killed in Gaza were not members of Hamas, the Resistance group fighting Israel.

“Whole world is responding to what is being witnessed in Gaza. The extraordinary number of casualties of civilians … quite clearly a majority of those people who lost their lives in Gaza aren’t Hamas fighters, they are innocent civilians,” he stressed.

‘This is a tragedy’

The WCK confirmed that its members had been killed in an Israeli attack while working to support humanitarian food delivery efforts in Gaza, saying: “This is a tragedy. Humanitarian aid workers and civilians should NEVER be a target. EVER.”

WCK founder, Jose Andres, said the organisation lost “several of our sisters and brothers” in the Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

“I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family. These are people … angels. … I served alongside in Ukraine, Gaza, Turkiye, Morocco, the Bahamas, Indonesia. They are not faceless … they are not nameless,” Andres said on X.

“The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing. It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers and stop using food as a weapon. No more innocent lives lost. Peace starts with our shared humanity. It needs to start now,” he added.

The Israeli military, meanwhile, said it was conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of the “tragic” incident.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on the Gaza Strip since a 7 October, 2023 cross-border attack by the Palestinian group, Hamas, which killed some 1,200 people.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

Over 32,800 Palestinians have since been killed and 75,300 others injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The Israeli war has pushed 85 per cent of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice which, on Thursday, asked it to do more to prevent famine in Gaza.

READ: Pope repeats call for access to humanitarian aid, cease-fire in Gaza