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

Katina Curtis and Kimberley Caines
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Anthony Albanese has confronted Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the death of Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom.
Anthony Albanese has confronted Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the death of Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom. Credit: Supplied

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.

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“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.
The 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.
Zomi 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.”

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.”

Opposition leader Peter Dutton said Ms Frankcom’s death was a tragedy.

“It’s a tragic circumstance where an aid worker has lost her life in a very difficult war zone,” he said.

“Obviously, nobody wants to see conflict of any circumstance in the Middle East but it is a reality.

“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, trying to provide support to people who are in a very difficult situation.”

Mr Dutton said the 40 remaining hostages held by Hamas after its October 7 attack on Israel had to be released so a ceasefire could be achieved.

“The attacks on the seventh of October should never be forgotten as acts of barbarity that shocked the world,” he said.

“The consequences that we see where innocent people are losing their lives in the Middle East at the moment is as a direct result of the attacks on the seventh of October.

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