‘Anger and Concern’: Australian PM Pushes for Transparency After Death of Aid Worker in Gaza

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said the strike was a tragic incident and unintentional.
‘Anger and Concern’: Australian PM Pushes for Transparency After Death of Aid Worker in Gaza
Humanitarian aid parcels attached to parachutes are airdropped from a military aircraft over the Gaza Strip on March 25, 2024. (-/AFP via Getty Images)
Monica O’Shea

The federal government has expressed outrage at the death of Australian aid worker Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom in Gaza amid the Israeli-Hamas war.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong have demanded accountability and transparency for the incident.

Ms. Frankcom is one of seven foreign aid workers who were killed in the strike, and she has been described as a “kind, selfless, and outstanding human being” by her family.

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated the air strike in Gaza was “unintentional” and said his government would commit to an investigation.

Mr. Albanese confirmed he has spoken to Mr. Netanyahu and described the death of the worker, from the World Central Kitchen, as “unacceptable.”

“This is completely unacceptable. Zomi was an Australian aid worker working for the World Central Kitchen providing support for people who are suffering from tremendous deprivation in Gaza,” he said in a press conference.

“I spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning with a phone call that was organised overnight. I expressed Australia’s anger and concern at the death of Zomi Frankcom.”

He added the Israeli government has “accepted responsibility for this” and Prime Minister Netanyahu conveyed his condolences to the family of Ms. Frankcom and Australia.

Mr. Netanyahu expressed his deep regret over the tragic incident and committed to a “swift and transparent investigation,” in a post on X.

“Israel deeply regrets the tragic incident which claimed the lives of seven humanitarian aid workers. Our hearts go out to their families and to their home countries,” he said.

“The [Israeli Defense Force] is conducting a swift and transparent investigation and we will make our findings public.”

The prime minister said Israel was allowing humanitarian aid to reach the civilian population in Gaza, and would do “everything in our power to ensure that such tragedies do not occur in the future.”

Meanwhile, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong has also communicated her outrage and confirmed she had spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz.

“I spoke to my counterpart, the foreign minister of Israel, late last night. I expressed to him the outrage that Australians feel,” Ms. Wong said on ABC Breakfast.

“I expressed to him the death of any aid worker and the death of Zomi Frankcom was outrageous and unacceptable, that we condemn the strike, and we expect full accountability from Israel.”

Ms. Wong said her counterpart confirmed the deaths were “a consequence of an IDF strike.”

She said the circumstances on how it could have occurred are “yet to be investigated fully.”

“Zomi Frankcom and her colleagues and other aid workers go into a conflict zone in order to try and alleviate the suffering—the humanitarian catastrophe which is occurring in Gaza—and they ought to have been protected,” Ms. Wong said.

The other aid workers killed in the strike include a U.S.-Canadian citizen, along with citizens of the UK, Palestine, and Poland.

World Central Kitchen has described the strike as a “targeted attack” but Israel denied the claim.

Mr. Albanese also spoke to Ms. Frankcom’s brother and told ABC 7.30 they were “devastated by the news.”

Opposition Mourns Death, Supports Israeli Investigation

Meanwhile, Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Birmingham also called for an investigation, in a post to X.
“We mourn the death of Australian humanitarian worker Zomi Frankcom who, amidst great tragedy and suffering, was working to save lives in Gaza,” Mr. Birmingham said.

“Israel should conduct investigations and be transparent in its findings,” he added.

“So many innocent people have died in conflict since Hamas launched its brutal attacks on 7 October. Hamas should immediately and unconditionally release hostages and surrender terrorist capabilities to facilitate a lasting ceasefire.”