Air strike in Damascus, Syria, Monday, April 1
Israel's bombing of an Iranian embassy compound has sparked fears of retaliation. Image by AP PHOTO
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Aussie aid worker says convoy shot at in Gaza mission

April 12, 2024

A shot was fired at an aid convoy during a co-ordinated mission to deliver supplies to northern Gaza, an Australian worker says.

Unicef spokeswoman Tess Ingram was on a mission on Tuesday when the UN-marked, armoured Toyota LandCruiser she was in was shot, she told ABC News on Friday.

“If we hadn’t been in an armoured vehicle that would have shattered the window and things could have been a lot worse,” she said.

Ms Ingram said the Israel Defence Force and Hamas were aware of the convoy’s movements as part of the mission, but she did not see the source of the gunfire.

“It appeared to come from the direction of the checkpoint towards civilians who then turned and ran in the other direction,” she said.

Aid for Gaza
 Aid agencies are trying to get desperately needed supplies through to Gaza. Image by AP PHOTO 

The shooting showed issues surrounding aid co-ordination have not been resolved since Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom was killed when Israeli drones struck a World Central Kitchen convoy earlier in April, Ms Ingram said.

She remains determined to go back.

“I’ll be a bit more nervous … we know that it’s dangerous here in Gaza, but we’ve just got to keep trying,” she said.

Australia has urged Iran not to escalate tensions in the Middle East after Tehran’s supreme leader threatened to retaliate against Israel.

On April 1, Israel bombed an Iranian embassy compound in Damascus, killing a top general and six other military officers.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the strike tantamount to an attack on Iranian soil and said Israel “must be punished, and it shall be”.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said on Friday she had spoken with Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and urged his nation to “use its influence in the region to promote stability, not contribute to escalation”.

“Australia is deeply concerned by indications Iran is preparing military action against Israel,” she said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“Further conflict will only add to the devastation in the Middle East.”

Senator Wong also called on Iran to push Hamas towards an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and a hostage release.

In response to the growing tensions in the region, the government’s Smartraveller website has urged Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with updated warnings citing the potential for airspace closures, flight cancellations and diversions.

On October 7, Hamas – designated a terrorist group by the Australian government – launched an attack on Israel that killed 1200 people and led another 200 to be taken hostage.

Penny Wong
 Penny Wong is concerned Iran is preparing military action against Israel. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS 

In the months since, Israel has launched a ground offensive and bombing campaign on Gaza that has killed more than 33,000 people and displaced another 1.7 million, according to the local health ministry.

Though many countries have attempted to send aid into the region, the deteriorating humanitarian situation has made it difficult to reach those who need it and Israeli authorities have continued to block resources, Oxfam says.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification projects about 1.1 million people are facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity in Gaza.

Conflict has spread across the Middle East as various groups and nations back Gaza, with Iran-backed Houthi forces blocking critical commercial shipping lanes in the Red Sea in support of Palestine.

With Reuters