Ex-ADF chief to oversee Israel aid worker deaths probe

A former defence chief will act as Australia's eyes and ears in the Israeli investigation into an air strike that killed seven aid workers, including Zomi Frankcom.

In early April, the Israeli Defence Force launched strikes that killed Australian aid worker Ms Frankcom and six of her World Central Kitchen colleagues as they were delivering food in Gaza.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong announced retired air chief marshal Mark Binskin would serve as special adviser to the government on Israel's response to the incident.

Mr Binskin served as chief of the Australian Defence Force from 2014 to 2018 and chairs the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the Pacific Security College.

"The Australian government has been clear that we expect full accountability for these deaths," Senator Wong said on Monday.

"The appointment of ACM Binskin will ensure the family of Zomi Frankcom, and the Australian people can have confidence in this process."

Some of the issues that will be considered include arrangements for the investigation of the incident, IDF policies and procedures for operational incidents and measures taken to hold those responsible to account.

The special adviser will also examine measures adopted to prevent similar incidents from occurring and whether further investigations are warranted.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the deaths of the aid workers was "utterly inexcusable" and that the information provided by Israel so far had not satisfied expectations.

"We would expect that Mr Binskin will be able to work in a way that provides greater information to Australia," he told ABC Radio on Monday.

"If the investigation finds that the Israeli defence force personnel have not acted in accordance with the law, then appropriate action should be taken and such action should be made public."

Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom
Australian Zomi Frankcom and other aid workers were killed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza.

But Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said Mr Binskin had been given a "mission impossible".

"This is about a political outcome for the prime minister, I'm sorry to say," he told reporters in Brisbane.

"What the prime minister is doing here in appointing Mark Binskin is not hoping for some discovery of a silver bullet ... what the prime minister is doing here is trying to find a pathway through what's obviously a torn ALP."

Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson welcomed Mr Binskin's appointment but claimed it was a double standard that the government had not reacted similarly to the death of Sydney-born woman Galit Carbone, who was killed in Hamas's October 7 attack.

An initial IDF inquiry released on Friday found Israeli forces mistakenly believed they were attacking Hamas gunmen when drones hit three World Central Kitchen vehicles.

Two IDF officers have been dismissed and other senior commanders have been formally reprimanded.

UN rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Saul said it was important for Australia to put pressure on Israel.

"There is a very long history of Israel giving essentially impunity to its own forces where allegations of violations have occurred," Professor Saul told ABC Radio.

"Israel has been saying it hasn't been violating international law, and that flies in the face of all available evidence from day one."

Even if the air strikes were not a deliberate attack on civilians, Prof Saul noted it could still constitute a war crime if Israel's offensive caused excessive civilian casualties relative to military advantage, or if the state launched strikes that failed to differentiate between targets and civilians.

"Every state has an obligation to respect its international humanitarian law obligations," he said.

with Reuters

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store