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Australia's Premier Demands Accountability From Israel Over Aid Worker's Killing In Gaza

02.04.2024 06:57

'This is a human tragedy that should never have occurred, that is completely unacceptable,' says Anthony Albanese.

Australia's prime minister on Tuesday demanded accountability from Israel over the killing of an Australian aid worker in the Gaza Strip.

"Australia expects full accountability for the deaths of aid workers, which is completely unacceptable," Anthony Albanese told reporters.

His remarks came after five people working for the World Central Kitchen (WCK), including four foreigners, were killed on Monday in an Israeli airstrike on their vehicle in Deir al-Balah city in the central Gaza Strip.

A director of the Government Media Office in Gaza said Israel struck a foreign team that consists of British, Polish and Australian nationals and another nationality still not identified, in addition to a Palestinian from Gaza.

Photos emerging on Palestinian social media accounts showed the passports of the foreigners who were killed in the airstrike, including from Australia, Poland and the UK, as well as dead bodies with WCK T-shirts.

Albanese confirmed the death of aid worker Lalzawmi "Zomi" Frankcom and conveyed his condolences to her family and friends.

"Aid workers and those doing humanitarian work and indeed all innocent civilians need to be provided with protection," he stressed.

Australia already contacted the Israeli government directly, he added.

"The truth is that this is beyond any reasonable circumstance that someone going about, providing aid and humanitarian assistance, should lose their life. There were four aid workers as well as a Palestinian driver in this vehicle," the prime minister said.

"This is a human tragedy that should never have occurred, that is completely unacceptable."

'This is a tragedy'

The WCK confirmed that its members had been killed in an Israeli attack while working to support humanitarian food delivery efforts in Gaza, saying: "This is a tragedy. Humanitarian aid workers and civilians should NEVER be a target. EVER."

WCK founder Jose Andres said the organization lost "several of our sisters and brothers" in the Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

"I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family. These are people…angels…I served alongside in Ukraine, Gaza, Türkiye, Morocco, the Bahamas, Indonesia. They are not faceless…they are not nameless," Andres said on X.

"The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing. It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers and stop using food as a weapon. No more innocent lives lost. Peace starts with our shared humanity. It needs to start now," he added.

The Israeli military, meanwhile, said it was conducting a thorough review at the highest levels to understand the circumstances of the "tragic" incident.

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 some 1,200 people.

Over 32,800 Palestinians have since been killed and 75,300 others 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 on Thursday asked it to do more to prevent famine in Gaza. -

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