Australia to appoint ‘special adviser’ on probe into Israel airstrike on aid workers

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Australia’s government said on Saturday it would appoint a special adviser to work with Israel to ensure “full confidence” in investigations into an airstrike in Gaza that killed seven aid workers including an Australian.

“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,” Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a televised media conference in Adelaide.

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“We want to have full confidence in the transparency and accountability of any investigation and we will continue to work to achieve that.”

The Israeli military on Friday dismissed two officers and formally reprimanded senior commanders after an inquiry into this week’s deadly airstrike on the aid workers, including Australian Zomi Frankcom, found serious errors and breaches of procedure.

Wong described the dismissals as “necessary first steps” but said the government had told Israel in a letter sent overnight that “initial responses suggest that the gravity of the death of seven humanitarian workers is yet to be appreciated by the Israeli government”.

“This cannot be brushed aside,” Wong said, adding that she expected all evidence in the investigations to be preserved.

Along with Frankcom, the airstrike killed citizens of Britain and Poland, Palestinians and a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada. Those killed were working for the charity World Central Kitchen.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese this week said he spoke with Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and conveyed Australia’s anger and concern at Frankcom’s death.

Netanyahu has called the deaths a “tragic event in which Israeli forces unintentionally harmed non-combatants in the Gaza Strip”.

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