A World Central Kitchen vehicle hit by an Israeli air strike.
A report on the death of aid worker Zomi Frankcom has been given to Australian authorities. Image by AP PHOTO
  • politics

Australia briefed on report into killing of aid worker

Tess Ikonomou April 5, 2024

Australia has been briefed by the Israeli military into the killing of aid worker Zomi Frankcom.

Israel Defence Forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said the investigation into the strike against seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza had been completed. 

The report would be made public within 24 hours, he said.

“The independent investigation has been already presented to the ambassadors of the relevant nations, and we will be presenting them to the World Central Kitchen I expect tomorrow morning, and then we’ll be bringing them to the public as well,” Lt Col Lerner said.

He said the military was sorry for the “very grave mistake” of “misidentification”.

The office of the Israeli prime minister on Friday said the Erez crossing, in northern Gaza, would be temporarily reopened in a bid to increase the flow of humanitarian aid.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it wasn’t good enough to describe the deaths as “just a product of war”.

He has also previously labelled the explanations of the deaths given by Israel as “insufficient and unacceptable”.

Cabinet Minister Jason Clare
 Jason Clare says Zomi Frankcom’s death wasn’t a one-off as almost 200 aid workers had died so far. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS 

Cabinet minister Jason Clare criticised Israel on Friday saying Ms Frankcom’s death wasn’t a one-off as almost 200 aid workers had been killed so far.

“It’s not good enough just to say ‘s*** happens,’ …. she was an aid worker trying to help desperate and starving people,” he told Seven’s Sunrise.

“I want the war to stop. I want the suffering to stop. I want Israel to hear what countries around the world are saying.”

Marking a shift from language previously used by the coalition, Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley said the nation wanted answers.

“It’s important that we do, in fact, find out what has happened and we bring some sense of understanding to all those who are just reeling from distress at this awful, awful situation,” she said.

Aid worker Zomi Frankcom was killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza.
 Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom was killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza. Image by HANDOUT/SUPPLIED 

Save the Children say almost 26,000 children in Gaza have been killed or injured in six months.

The conflict has “decimated” the health system and stopped access to education.

World Central Kitchen has called for an independent investigation into the Israeli strike and wants Australia among the other countries whose citizens were killed, to join the demand.

US President Joe Biden in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appeared for the first time to set conditions for continued US support.

This included Israel needing to implement steps to prevent “civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers”.

Lt Col Lerner said he expected the individual military members who were involved in the strike to face consequences.

“I don’t know the outcome, but if that is the situation, I would expect nothing less,” he said.

Asked if Israeli commanders on the ground were adhering to the rules of war following reports the strike was due to poor discipline, Lt Col Lerner said any breach of standards should be dealt with.

“Perhaps even criminal charges if there’s been a very dire mistake,” he said.

The Israeli military spokesman said the investigation was completed outside of the IDF’s chain of command.

Lt Col Lerner said investigators were provided with full access to all of the information including the operational details and intelligence.

He wouldn’t confirm if footage of the deadly air strike would be made public.

Asked if the strike was something that just happened in war, Lt Col Lerner said conflict was always filled with tragedies and civilians since the dawn of time had been “caught up”.

“We have to be better than that, we have to do better, and I think that is our message,” he said.

“We need to make sure that when people that are coming to do good … they need to be able to work safely.”