JOHN FLINT: Tough words won’t save lives in Gaza, Netanyahu must see consequences

John Flint
The Nightly
4 Min Read
At least 103 journalists have also paid with their lives in their attempt to tell the world outside of Gaza what is happening there.
At least 103 journalists have also paid with their lives in their attempt to tell the world outside of Gaza what is happening there. Credit: Don Lindsay/The West Australian

Zomi Frankcom was by all accounts the epitome of a humanitarian aid worker — selfless, courageous, and totally dedicated to helping vulnerable and starving people.

Her family said she would “leave behind a legacy of compassion, bravery and love for all those in her orbit”.

For someone with deeply-held convictions about helping all humans in strife, she truly walked the walk, whether it was in Gaza, Afghanistan or back home in Australia assisting communities ravaged by bushfires.

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Zomi, 43, was in a three vehicle convoy, from World Central Kitchen, that was obliterated by precise Israeli missile attacks on Monday night, in what the charity group described as a “targeted attack”.

“The WCK team was traveling in a deconflicted zone in two armoured cars branded with the WCK logo and a soft skin vehicle,” it said.

“Despite co-ordinating movements with the Israel Defense Forces, the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route.

“This is an attack on humanitarian organisations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable,” WCK chief executive Erin Gore said.

Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom was killed by an Israeli strike. Supplied.
Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom was killed by an Israeli strike. Supplied. Credit: NCA NewsWire

Zomi’s Australian passport was recovered from a destroyed vehicle. It was drenched in her blood.

The WCK vehicles were more than a mile and a half apart when they were hit by missiles, likely fired from drone. Seven charity workers were killed, taking the number of aid employees killed in the war to at least 196.

At least 103 journalists have also paid with their lives in their attempt to tell the world outside of Gaza what is happening there.

“Many of them were reporting in the field and were clearly identifiable as journalists. Others were killed by strikes that specifically targeted their homes,” Reporters Without Borders claimed on March 7.

The deaths of aid workers and journalists aren’t any more tragic or heart-wrenching than each of the 33,000 Palestinian civilians who’ve been killed in the six-month war. It is, though, further evidence of the indiscriminate killing that should disgust us all.

An estimated 13,000 children have perished so far. Many more are injured, sick or starving. To get them food, medicine and treatment, aid organisations will have to ask their employees and volunteers to follow in the footsteps of fallen colleagues and run the gauntlet of drone attacks.

For some charities, the risks, understandably, might be deemed too high, provoking more hunger and misery for civilians.

Patience is reported to be wearing thin in Washington, but the supply of arms to Israel from the United States remains as bulging as ever.

I don’t doubt President Biden is outraged, appalled and intensely frustrated, as he claims. But at what point does that make any difference to what is happening on the ground in Gaza.

Democrats in America mock Republicans for their knee-jerk reaction of offering thoughts and prayers to the families of the slain every time there is a mass shooting tragedy in the US.

Just as thoughts and prayers achieve nothing of practical worth and as a tired cliche have become an insult to the murdered, so do useless expressions of frustration and anger at what’s occurring in Gaza.

Granted, the words are getting sterner, but without articulating consequences, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unlikely to change his hardline course.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Credit: Abir Sultan/AP

It’s the diplomatic equivalent of scolding a child whilst handing them bags of lollies.

The time is well overdue for conditions — like a ceasefire or more food distribution — to be attached to billions of dollars in military support Israel receives from the United States.

There’s growing pressure from both progressive and moderate Democrats for the President to turn words into action. Doing nothing could disastrously backfire on Biden in November’s presidential election.

Anthony Albanese might suffer a similar backlash from voters alarmed that Australia isn’t strident enough in its condemnation of the war. South Africa has contrastingly accused Israel of committing genocide in the International Court of Justice.

Last October, the world recoiled in horror at the slaughter of Israeli music festival-goers and families living in communities near the Gaza border and the abduction of 253 hostages.

Israel had more than the sympathy of the international community. It had its blessing to hunt down the Hamas terrorists and rescue the hostages.

Worry for the unreleased hostages remains, but Israel no longer holds the moral high-ground. Indiscriminate killing tends to do that.

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