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Killing Humanitarians: Israel’s War on Aid Workers in Gaza

Eulogies should rarely be taken at face value. Plaster saints take the place of complex individuals; faults transmute into golden virtues. But there was little in the way of fault regarding Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom’s messianic purpose, whose tireless work for the charity, World Central Kitchen (WCK) in northern Gaza had not gone unnoticed. Sadly, the Australian national, along with six other members of WCK, were noticed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) around midnight of April 1 and 2 and targeted in a strike that killed all of them. 

Other members of the slain crew included Polish citizen Damian Sobol, three British nationals whose names are yet to be released, a US-Canadian dual citizen, and the driver and translator Saif Abu Taha.

The charity workers had been unloading food supplies from Cyprus that had been sent via sea in a designated “deconflicted” area. All three vehicles, two armoured and one “soft skin”, sported the WCK logo. Even more galling for the charity was the fact that coordinating efforts between WCK and the IDF had taken place as it left the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the individuals had been responsible for uploading over 100 tonnes of humanitarian food aid.

On April 2, Haaretz reported that three missiles had been fired in rapid succession at the convoy by a Hermes 450 UAV on direction of a unit guarding the aid transport route. The troops in question claimed to have spotted what they thought was an armed figure riding a truck that had entered one of the aid storage areas with three WCK vehicles. The armed figure, presumed to be a Hamas militant, never left the warehouse in the company of the vehicles.

In a public relations war Israel is increasingly losing, various statements of variable quality and sincerity could only confirm that fact. IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari stated that he had spoken to WCK founder Chef José Andrés “and expressed the deepest condolences of the Israel Defense Forces to the families and the entire World Central Kitchen family.”

Hagari went on to add the IDF’s expression of “sincere sorrow to our allied nations who have been doing and continue to do so much to assist those in need.” This was a bit rich given the programmatic efforts of the IDF and Israeli officials to stifle and strangulate the provision of aid into the Gaza Strip, from the logistical side of keeping land crossings closed and delaying access to existing ones, to aggressive efforts to defund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). 

As for the operation itself, Hagari announced that “the highest levels” of military officialdom had been “reviewing the incident” to comprehend the circumstances that led to the deaths. “We will get to the bottom of this and we will share our findings transparently.” Again exalting the prowess of his organisation in investigating such matters, he promised that the army’s General Staff Fact-Finding Assessment Mechanism – yet another independent body designed to give the impression of thoroughness and impartiality – would look into this “serious incident” to “reduce the risk of such an event from occurring again.” 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a better barometric reading of the mood, and it was certainly not one of grieving or feeling aggrieved. The killings had merely been “a tragic instance of our forces unintentionally harming innocent people in the Gaza Strip. It happens in war.” Israel would “investigate it” and had been “in contact with the governments and we will do everything we can so that it doesn’t happen again.”

 

 

This is mightily optimistic given the butcher’s toll of 173 aid workers from UNRWA alone, with 196 humanitarians said to have died as of March 20, 2024 since October 7 last year. Aid workers have been killed in IDF strikes despite the regular provision of coordinates on their locations. Be it through reckless indifference, conscious intent, or a lack of competence, the morgues continue to be filled with humanitarian workers.

A bristling CEO of WCK, Erin Gore, proved blunter about the implications of the strike. “This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organisations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war.”

Project HOPE’s Executive Vice President, Chris Skopec, drew attention to the obvious, yet repeatedly neglected fact in the Gaza conflict that aid workers are protected by international humanitarian law. Gaza had become “one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a humanitarian worker. This is unacceptable and demands accountability through the International Criminal Court.”

Responsibility for the killings is unlikely to translate into accountability, let alone any public outing of the individuals involved. This is not to say that such exercises are impossible, even with Israel not being a member of the International Criminal Court. The pageantry of guilt can still be pursued. 

When Malaysian Airlines MH17 was downed over Ukraine in July 2014 by a Buk missile, killing all 298 on board, international efforts of terrier-like ferocity were initiated against those responsible for the deadly feat. The MH17 Joint Investigation Team (JIT), comprising the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, Belgium and Ukraine, identified the missile as having come from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian armed forces from Kursk. Four suspects were identified. Of the four, one was acquitted, with the district Court of The Hague handing down three life sentences in November 2022 along with an order to pay over €16 million in compensation to the victims. The individuals remain at large, and the Kremlin largely unmoved, but the point was made. 

In this case, any hope for seeking an external accounting for the event is likely to be kept in-house. Excuses of error and misidentification are already filling press releases and conferences. Doing so will enable the IDF to continue its program of quashing the Palestinian cause while pursuing an undisclosed war against those it considers, publicly or otherwise, to be its ameliorating collaborators. With an announcement by various humanitarian groups, including WCK, Anera and Project Hope, that their operations will be suspended following the killings, starvation, as a policy in Gaza, can receive its official blessing.  

 

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15 comments

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  1. Clakka

    The entirety of the war is an abomination. The hypocrisy of sobs over this instance is mind blowing, when the IDF & Netanyahu / Likud have been en masse killing Palestinian citizens aid workers and journalists since the get-go, and systematically blocking aid goods, services (incl water, sewerage, electricity & comms) and decimating homes and infrastructure.

    And yet many sobbing now, have not been throughout, and are still supplying weaponry to the IDF.

  2. RomeoCharlie

    outrage after outrage and still the uncontrolled and uncontrollable Netanyahu and his IDF thugs kill innocents with impunity, while their western supporters wring their hands while continuing to supply the arms killing the innocents.

    Saw Albanese’s pathetic effort on 7.30 and wanted to throw things at the TV. Too slow to condemn Israel, too quick to accept any of Israel’s bullshit lies about Hamas-linked aid workers and cut off aid which they acknowledge, vaguely, is desperately needed.
    -e
    Surly it is time for this Labor government to cut its ties with Israel until it has a less murderous leadership and reins in its military attack dogs.

    Still on Albanese, plenty of outrage over the Hamas October 7 events but no recognition that it was an act of resistance to 70 years of Israeli oppression, humiliation, starvation and full-on bastardry.

    And where is the outrage t the continued war on Palestinians in the West Bank?

  3. Old bloke

    It’s almost as if the IDF snipers are playing one of those computer games where you get to shoot as many as you like, and you are safe. However in this case, the targets are real people, even children. Evil shows its face in the ‘most moral’ IDF. I’ve only ever voted Labor in my more than 60 years of elections, but not again after this squib Labor government has taken no meaningful action against this murderous regime that is Israel. ‘Unacceptable’…fffttt. ‘Accountable’…fffttt. Crickets. A least Bill Shorten had the courage of his convictions, but that led to his defeat. Albo???? Marles???? Wong???? Recall our ambassador to Israel and call in their ambassador for a please explain and then expel him! Extradite those responsible for this latest murderous outrage and try them in an Australian court where they would be found guilty and jailed for life! Oh, I’m just pissing into the wind.
    And no, I would never vote Liberal!

  4. OldWomBat

    Israel has had a free pass for so long that it appears to believe that it can do whatever it wants without regard to the lives of others. Any other state to reach the heights of barbarity that we are now seeing in Gaza, the sniper targeting of children (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/apr/02/gaza-palestinian-children-killed-idf-israel-war), would have been declared a terrorist state and suffered sanctions and other penalties on individuals deemed as leaders. Israel is rapidly descending to the same level as occupied by the Hamas terrorists, if in fact they are not already there.

  5. Old bloke

    Allow me to add a couple more points. Netanyahu is known to have seen to the financial support of Hamas in the past, allowing them to increase in strength and become established as leaders in Gaza with the exclusion of those Bibi did not approve of. Should then he not be declaired a traitor and put against a wall facing a firing squad or stand on the gallows with a noose around his neck. Secondly, as Isreal is at war with Hamas, should not the events of October the 7th be seen as ‘things happen in war’ and be excused as such as Netanyahu has described the murder of an Australian aid worker?

  6. Terence Mills

    “On Monday 25 March The UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan, the immediate and unconditional release of hostages and “the urgent need to expand the flow” of aid into Gaza. There were 14 votes in favour with the United States abstaining.”

    Israel ignored this resolution and continued the bombing and killing of Civilians, aid workers and journalists.

    Mr Netanyahu has apologised for the death of seven aid workers and said that these things happen in wars – he’s not wrong, over thirty thousand Palestinians have been killed since October – sorry about that !

  7. Tony

    About 240 Israeli hostages taken, 132 still missing and yet no plausible reason why the border was not secure.
    Over 12,000 Palestinian children now sacrificed to the God of Zionists.
    What other nation practices child sacrifice?
    The murder of 12,000 children by drone strikes hardly matters but the murder of one Aussie aid worker is the main tragedy.
    Albanese is incapable or doing anything other than prevaricate.
    Next election, throw out all the politicians who did nothing.

  8. Old bloke

    Have just emailed my local (Labor) member that although I could never vote Liberal, I could not in all conscience vote Labor while ever Albo and Wong give barely lip service to what is happening in Gaza and to its people. More of us should do the same. That could only mean that I would vote Independent or Greens or Informal.

  9. Douglas Pritchard

    I wonder if Julian Assange knows the nasty little secret that is used by Isael which allows it to blackmail a whole bunch of nations into reluctant complicity with this genocide.
    I dont believe that our intelligence agencies would otherwise go along with this bunch of crooks who all happen to be Jews with murderous intent.
    I have heard the sentence about “what we dont know that we dont know about the unknowns” (or something like that).

  10. GL

    The words “Holocaust” and “Anti-semitism”, Netanyahu and his maniacs pretty much rely on those words being able to send politicians in the west into paroxysms of fear and so they make squeaking noises about the Palestinian deaths and let the deaths continue.

  11. Cool Pete

    The USA decided to follow the Monroe Doctrine under Woodrow Wilson until Germany sank the Lusitania. Pro-conscriptionists in Australia put out the suggestion that anti-conscriptionists believed that it was right to sink it. Australia would continually bleat that it had not received an apology from Japan for the war, which was untrue. And much has been made of the sinking of the Centaur. Now is not the time for Australia to go gently on Israel. Israel has crossed the line, and it has affected Australia.

  12. Kerri

    Bibi has assured Albo that a full investigation will take place.
    But why would anyone trust a single word from the mouth of this lying oxygen thief?
    It is clear that these aid workers were simply collateral damage in Bibi’s greater mission to starve Gaza.
    “These things happen in war.”
    So do assassinations.
    It was an accident!
    Amazing how many accidents manage to fulfill Israel’s intentions for Gaza.
    He smiles like a ghoul whilst presenting his excuses for crimes of war, whilst he continues his campaign to apply all forms of outrageous actions as a means to stay out of jail.
    He should hope to go to jail.
    It may be the only place on earth he is safe.
    Somebody ask Joe? Did he ever think he would see little babies blown to smithereens, starved to death, traumatised beyond comprehension. Did he ever think he would see good hearted people with pure humanitarian intentions torn to shreds by “our close friend” who “has the right to defend itself”?
    All that Genocide Joe has done to improve the USA will be lost to memory and his legacy will remain that he financed and supported the wholesale slaughter of an entire race of people.

    @OldBloke hear hear!

  13. Harry Lime

    Kerri,as long as the Military Industrial Complex and the corporate behemoths call the shots,Joe is just the current shopfront dummy doing what he is constrained to do.Our own Albo is just another puppet here,controlled by the fossil fuel crime syndicate,despite protestations to the contrary.We, the unsuspecting public,are fed a constant diet of lies,enabled by mainstream media stenographers.As for the criminal Bibi,the shadow of death looms above him.

  14. Pingback: Killing Humanitarians: Israel’s War on Aid Workers in Gaza – Equilibrion

  15. Pingback: killing humanitarians: Israel’s war on aid workers in Gaza | Waikanae Watch

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