Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong have both expressed their outrage over the death of an Australian aid worker and six colleagues in a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Wong is also considering whether Australia should impose sanctions on Israel.

Melbourne-born aid worker Zomi Frankcom was volunteering with the World Central Kitchen charity in Gaza when the car she was travelling in came under deadly Israeli missile fire.

The first recorded deaths of foreign aid workers since the war in Gaza began has prompted several organisations to suspend operations in the beleaguered enclave.

Herzi Halevi, chief-of-staff of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), said a preliminary debrief suggested the strike was the result of misidentification, describing it as a “grave mistake”.

“I want to be very clear: the strike was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers,” Halevi said in a statement.

“It was a mistake that followed a misidentification, at night during a war in very complex conditions. It shouldn’t have happened.”

In a video statement, Netanyahu said: “Unfortunately in the past day there was a tragic event in which our forces unintentionally harmed non-combatants in the Gaza Strip.

“This happens in war. We are conducting a thorough inquiry and are in contact with the governments. We will do everything to prevent a recurrence.”

Speaking immediately after the tragedy, Albanese said Netanyahu had accepted responsibility on behalf of the IDF for the tragedy.

“There was no equivocation there,” Albanese said.

“But I think that Australians will look at this and be deeply, deeply concerned. That someone going about their work, providing aid in an exercise of humanity, could lose their life in this way is completely unacceptable.”

Albanese added: “I conveyed to Prime Minister Netanyahu in very clear terms that Australians were outraged by the death of this fine Australian.”

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Israel could not simply dismiss the attack as an accident that happens in war.

“The death of any aid worker is outrageous and unacceptable,” she told Sky News. “I don’t want Israel to be under any illusions about how outraged we are at the death of an Australian citizen in these circumstances.”

While saying that Australia could not force Israel to change the way it is conducting the war in Gaza, Wong said Israel’s international reputation was paying a heavy price as a result of the conflict.

“I believe Israel is losing support as a consequence of the actions, of the course, it is taking,” she said. “And I think Australians see that.”

She said nothing about the hostages still held captive by Hamas who have been physically, mentally and sexually assaulted while imprisoned in filthy underground tunnels. Many have also undoubtedly been killed.

Don Rothwell, Professor of International Law at the Australian National University, said it would be a dramatic move for Australia to charge Israeli troops in the Australian legal system under the principle of “universal jurisdiction”.

Rothwell added, however, that there had to be a “very live prospect” of Australia imposing autonomous sanctions on Israel in response to the attack.

Wong said that she did not comment on possible sanctions before they are announced, suggesting there may well be an announcement soon.

Alex Ryvchin, co-chair of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, welcomed the Israeli government’s sincere apology for the deaths, labelling Frankcom and her colleagues heroes for volunteering in a war zone.

“We support the government’s call for a thorough and transparent investigation to determine how this happened and ensure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

“Casualties caused by accidental fire are a grim reality of war especially one involving a ruthless terrorist force that uses unlawful and sinister tactics intended to ensnare the civilian population in the fighting and inflict maximum suffering on non-combatants.

Describing Frankcom’s death as a tragedy, Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said: “Israel has acknowledged that her convoy was hit by Israeli fire and has expressed deep regret. This was the result of a terrible mistake. Like Australia, Israel does not target civilians.”

The interesting factor in relation to this incident is the totally different response by Albanese and Wong after the Hamas attack on 7 October.

Albanese waited several days before making any major comment on the issue despite 1,200 people being murdered and 240 taken hostage. He still refuses to visit Israel.

Wong made immediate conciliatory comments to the affect that Israel should not respond too aggressively. When she eventually visited the region, she refused to visit the massacre sites

She also restarted funding of UNRWA despite serious claims made against them and even before the UN report on their actions had been completed !

Just a few weeks after that brutal attack when women were raped before being killed and children were beheaded, Wong had the temerity to demand that Israel must “listen” to demands from Australia and other countries and ensure that it “protects innocent lives in Gaza” while warning that the world “will not accept continuing civilian deaths”.

It was all about supporting Palestinian Gazans – not innocent Israelis – even though many Gazans took an active part in the Hamas atrocities and 75% of Palestinians recently polled continue to applaud Hamas’s actions on 7 October.

Nothing should surprise us regarding Albanese, Wong and many of their far-left comrades when it comes to this conflict.

They are – and always have been – totally supportive of the Palestinian cause and totally averse to anything that’s said or done by Israel.

We are witnessing that right now.

Hamas is entirely to blame for every death and injury that’s occurred during this war. They started it and are now hiding like cowards behind innocent Gazans.

Our government should be demanding the immediate release of hostages and Hamas’ unconditional surrender. Their leaders should also be placed before the ICC to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Thanks to two great cartoonists: Johannes Leak and John Spooner

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