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Israel admits to killing aid workers in Gaza, including Australian national, says Canberra

Israel admits to killing aid workers in Gaza, including Australian national, says Canberra

Australian Premier Anthony Albanese says he conveyed his country's anger, concern at death of aid worker to his Israeli counterpart

By Islamuddin Sajid

 

ANKARA (AA) - Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Wednesday that his Israeli counterpart accepted responsibility for an airstrike that killed seven foreign aid workers in Gaza and assured a "thorough investigation."

Speaking to a News Conference at Parliament House in the capital Canberra, Albanese said he spoke with Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the morning and conveyed his outrage at the death of Australian national Zomi Frankcom, who, along with the six other aid workers, was a member of US-based food charity World Central Kitchen.

"The Israeli Government has accepted responsibility for this (attack) and Prime Minister Netanyahu conveyed his condolences to the family of Zomi Frankcom and to Australia as a result of this tragedy," Albanese told reporters.

"I expressed Australia's anger and concern at the death of Zomi Frankcom," he said and adding the attack was "completely unacceptable."

Earlier on Tuesday, the World Central Kitchen confirmed that seven of its humanitarian aid workers were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip.

The workers were nationals of Australia, Poland, the UK and Palestine, as well as a US-Canadian dual citizen.

Despite coordinating movements with the Israeli army, the humanitarian organization said the convoy was hit as it was leaving a warehouse in the southern Gaza city of Deir al-Balah, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on a maritime route.

Australian Prime Minister said Netanyahu committed to full transparency on how the tragedy occurred.

"We have expressed very clearly that we need a full and proper explanation for how this has occurred. The first step is the acceptance of responsibility. And that has occurred. But we want a very fast, immediate, clear and transparent process to occur," said Albanese.

However, Albanese avoided responding to a question on whether his government is considering expelling Israeli diplomats or recalling Australia's ambassador stationed in Israel.

"There is a need for a thorough investigation into what happened here, and Prime Minister Netanyahu committed to that. I made clear again that it is Australia's view that humanitarian assistance must reach people in Gaza unimpeded and in large quantities," he added.

According to Albanese he also conveyed his concerns over a "ground invasion" of Rafah, the southern-most city of the Palestinian enclave, which is home to about 1.4 million Palestinians, the majority of whom have been displaced in the last six months of intensified Israeli army bombardments.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong also spoke with her Israeli counterpart and said she expressed the nation's outrage.

"I said that the death of any aid worker is outrageous and it is unacceptable. I expressed the view that we expect full accountability for these deaths. We spoke about his intention to ensure that there was a thorough investigation," Wong told ABC.

Some 196 aid workers have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7 last year, said Wong, citing UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. She added that this was unacceptable.

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

At least 32,916 Palestinians have since been killed and 75,494 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% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% 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 (ICJ), which last week asked it to do more to prevent famine in Gaza.

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