Australia to appoint special adviser on probe over Gaza aid workers deaths

Australia to appoint special adviser on probe over Gaza aid workers deaths

SYDNEY (AFP) : Australia has said it will appoint a special adviser to work with Israel to ensure “transparency” in an investigation into an air strike on Gaza that killed seven aid workers, including an Australian.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Australia wants detailed answers as to how aid workers from the US-based World Central Kitchen were killed by Israeli forces last Monday.

The group included 43-year-old Australian national Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom, as well as British, Palestinian, Polish and US-Canadian employees.

Wong told reporters Saturday that information about the strike provided so far by Israel was not sufficient and that the Australian government wants its own “suitably qualified person” to monitor the investigation.

“The government will appoint a special adviser who we have requested the Israelis work with so we can be advised about the appropriateness of the process,” Wong said.

“We want to have full confidence in the transparency and accountability of any investigation.”

Israel’s military said it fired two officers over the killing of the aid workers in Gaza, where humanitarian groups say famine is imminent.

But the rare admission of wrongdoing by Israel did not quell calls for an independent probe.

The deaths of the aid workers led to a tense call between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Wong said details of the special adviser will be announced in the “very near future.”

The war in Gaza began on October 7 with an unprecedented attack from the territory by Hamas militants resulting in the deaths of 1,170 people in southern Israel, mostly civilians, Israeli figures show.

Palestinian militants also took around 250 Israeli and foreign hostages, about 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including more than 30 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 33,137 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.