Zomi Frankcom: Anthony Albanese confronts Benjamin Netanyahu over airstrike that killed Aussie aid worker

Katina Curtis, Kimberley Caines and Peta RasdienThe Nightly
Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom, 43, was killed in Gaza.
Camera IconAustralian aid worker Zomi Frankcom, 43, was killed in Gaza. Credit: NCA NewsWire

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has confronted the Israeli Prime Minister over the death of Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom in a high-stakes phone call overnight.

Mr Albanese said he made it clear to Benjamin Netanyahu that Australians were outraged by Ms Frankcom’s death and wanted full accountability.

He said he had demanded a full and proper investigation of how it had occurred.

“We had a reasonably long conversation... I was very clear and firm in expressing Australia’s view to Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Mr Albanese said.

“When I spoke with the Prime Minister, I emphasised the importance of full accountability and transparency. And Prime Minister Netanyahu has committed to transparency about how this tragedy could possibly have happened.

“There is a need for a thorough investigation into what happened here.”

The Israeli leader has accepted full responsibility on behalf of his defence forces for the incident, which Mr Albanese said was the first step towards accountability and consequences.

He noted the anger in response from other global leaders including UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and US President Joe Biden.

“Australia will join with all of those nations with a consistent demand for full accountability here and we await that to occur,” he said.

“The global community is very concerned about the death toll that has occurred in Gaza.”

The damaged vehicle.
Camera IconThe damaged vehicle. Credit: Yasser Qudaih/Anadolu via Getty Images

Ms Frankcom was working with the World Central Kitchen charity in Gaza when the vehicle she was travelling in was hit in an Israeli air strike. She was one of seven people killed in the strike which Mr Netanyahu and the Israel Defence Force admits hit them by mistake.

Mr Albanese said aid workers such as Ms Frankcom were heroes who helped strangers while putting themselves at risk.

“When I spoke with Zomi’s brother yesterday... I gave him my personal, private mobile,” the Prime Minister said.

“I told him I’ll be available at any time to provide whatever assistance my office or the Australian Government could provide to him and his family, noting that members of the family are overseas themselves.

“This is an enormous personal tragedy for them but this is also a significant loss for our nation.”

Zomi Frankcom was killed in an airstrike in Gaza.
Camera IconZomi Frankcom was killed in an airstrike in Gaza. Credit: Facebook

Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who has been vocal in calling for a ceasefire since the October 7 attack, has also spoken with her Israeli counterpart overnight to express Australia’s “outraged” by Ms Frankcom’s death.

“I made clear that we believe the death of any aid worker is unacceptable, and frankly, outrageous,” she told the Today Show on Wednesday.

“I made clear we expect a full, thorough transparent inquiry and explanation and we expect full accountability.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the deaths of innocent people in the Middle East was “a direct result” of Hamas’ attack on October 7.

“Our thoughts, our prayers and condolences obviously go out to Zomi’s family and to her friends and to those who are there serving at the moment in harm’s way to people who are in a very difficult situation,” Mr Dutton said.

“Hamas continues to hold hostages, 40 people, and they should be released immediately so that a ceasefire can be entered into and the attacks on the 7th of October should never be forgotten as acts of barbarity.”

Israel’s military has voiced “sincere sorrow” over the incident, which has ratcheted up international pressure for steps to ease the disastrous humanitarian situation in Gaza nearly six months into Israel’s siege and invasion of the Palestinian enclave.

In a video posted to X, formerly Twitter, IDF Chief of the General Staff LTG Herzi Halevi said the strike was unintentional.

“I want to be very clear—the strike was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers. It was a mistake that followed a misidentification—at night during a war in very complex conditions. It shouldn’t have happened.”

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