Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong at a press conference (file)
Foreign Minister Penny Wong says Australia demands "clear, practical, action". Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS
  • investigation

‘Deadly failure’: Penny Wong’s fresh call against IDF

April 6, 2024

Penny Wong has accused Israel of not taking appropriate action following drone strikes that killed Zomi Frankcom and six colleagues while they were delivering aid in Gaza.

The foreign affairs minister has called for “clear, practical, action” from Israel Defence Forces after it dismissed two officers for violating the army’s rules of engagement.

“People have been raising concerns for some time about … what has been occurring in relation to humanitarian workers,” she said in Adelaide on Saturday.

“There was obviously a deadly failure. It cannot be brushed aside and it cannot be covered over. 

“I don’t believe any Australian would expect us to do anything other than to continue to demand the transparency and accountability.”

Senator Wong said both she and Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles had been in touch with their Israeli counterparts to “reiterate Australia’s expectations”.

Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom
 Zomi Frankcom’s family says it supports a war crimes investigation into Israel’s actions. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS 

“We have made clear after we were verbally briefed, that we have not yet received sufficient information to satisfy our expectations,” she said. 

“In that letter, we raised Australia’s concerns that Israel at that time, had not yet taken the appropriate action in relation to the individuals involved in that incident.”

Senator Wong also confirmed the government would appoint a special adviser to ensure a thorough investigation into the air strike.

“I have written to our counterparts in setting out our expectations,” she said.

“We want to have full confidence in the transparency and accountability of any investigation we will continue to work to to achieve that.”

In a report released on Friday, the Israeli military said its dismissed soliders had mishandled critical information.

Three others were also reprimanded for their roles in the strikes on a convoy of World Central Kitchen workers on Monday.

WCK said the Israeli investigation was an important step but there needed to be a systemic change to prevent “more apologies and more grieving families”.

“The IDF has acknowledged its responsibility and its fatal errors in the deadly attack on our convoy in Gaza,” the charity said in a statement.

“It is also taking disciplinary action against those in command and committed to other reforms. These are important steps forward.”

Earlier on Friday, Israeli Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told ABC radio the military was sorry for the “very grave mistake”.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was not good enough to describe the killings of the aid workers as “just a product of war”.

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

Earlier this week, Senator Wong rebuked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for “deeply insensitive” comments attempting to “brush aside” his military’s culpability after he admitted Israeli forces “unintentionally” hit innocent people, adding “this happens in wartime”.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at a press conference
 Prime Minister Anthony Albanese labelled the explanations of the deaths as “unacceptable”. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS 

“We do not accept any suggestion that this is just something that can be brushed aside as just something that happens in war,” she told a Guardian Australia podcast recorded on Thursday.

“Even in war, there are rules and they include the principles of distinction between a military target and a civilian target.

“We do not accept that these events – this attack on an aid convoy – can be dismissed or lessened or diminished in any way at all.”

Ms Frankcom’s family says it supports a war crimes investigation and charges if they are justified.

Oxfam Australia said people in northern Gaza had been forced to survive on an average of 245 calories a day – less than a can of beans – since January.

More than 33,000 people in Gaza have been killed since Israel declared war on Hamas in retaliation to the militants’ October 7 attack.

Hamas killed 1200 Israelis and took more than 200 hostages in their assault.

with AP