Penny Wong: Israel must abide by international law, expresses ‘rage of the nation’ to Israeli counterpart


Foreign Minister Penny Wong says unless Israel changes its course it will lose Australia’s support after expressing the “rage of the nation” in the wake of the deaths of a group of aid workers killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza.

Melbourne aid worker Zomi Frankcom has been confirmed as one of seven aid workers who died after a charity convoy took fire in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on Monday.

After telling her Israeli counterpart that the deaths were “outrageous and unacceptable”, Senator Wong firmly waived assertions that the Albanese government’s emphasis on a need for restraint during the Israel-Hamas conflict had emboldened Israel’s actions.

“I am outraged by what occurred overnight, and those were the actions of the Netanyahu government and the IDF,” the minister told Today.

“Let us be clear about where responsibility lies for this, and let us not confuse issues. I have been very clear from the start. Israel should observe international humanitarian law.

“That means the protection of civilians, and that means the protection of aid workers, and that means the provision of aid into Gaza”

More than 33,800 people have been killed since the war began on October 7, with more than 32,600 Palestinian deaths in Gaza and the West Bank and 1200 deaths in Israel.

In a video statement on Tuesday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that an IDF air strike was responsible for the deaths of Ms Frankcom and six of her colleagues.

Mr Netanyahu said that Israel “deeply regrets the tragic incident”, claiming that it was “unintentional.”

Senator Wong said she expected Mr Netanyahu to “make himself available for a call” and argued that international humanitarian law still applied.

“What I’ve said to my counterparts directly, and what I have said previously publicly … that unless Israel, Mr Netanyahu, changes his course of action, Israel will continue to lose support. We say to Mr Netanyahu, you must change course,” she said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is expected to address the situation at a press conference later on Tuesday morning.

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