Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Anthony Albanese has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Australia wants “a thorough investigation” with “full accountability and transparency” into what happened in the incident in which Australian Zomi Frankcom and several other aid workers were killed in an Israeli attack on their convoy.

Albanese also used the conversation to express Australia’s concern about a potential ground invasion of the Gazan city of Rafah and the consequences for civilians there. The United States has been strongly urging Israel to refrain from the ground assault on Rafah which would be devastating for the civilians who have fled there to shelter.

Netanyahu on Wednesday morning returned the call Albanese had sought to demand an explanation about the death of the Australian.

Albanese told his news conference: “The Israeli government has accepted responsibility for this and Prime Minister Netanyahu conveyed his condolences to the family of Zomi Frankcom and to Australia as a result of this tragedy”.

Albanese said Netanyahu had committed to a thorough investigation.

“I made clear again that it is Australia’s view that humanitarian assistance must reach people in Gaza unimpeded and in large quantities.”

“I conveyed to Prime Minister Netanyahu in very clear terms that Australians were outraged by this death, by this tragedy of this fine Australian,” he said.

In what Albanese described as a “reasonably long conversation” “Netayahu expressed his views and I expressed the views of Australia.” about the present situation in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“I indicated my concern with a ground invasion of Rafah, and the consequences for the civilian population there.

“I reiterated Australia’s concern at the loss of life that has occurred in Gaza. I reiterated Australia’s condemnation, unequivocally, of the events of October 7 and of Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

“I indicated very clearly Australia’s view, as I have in every conversation I have had with Prime Minister Netanyahu, our support for a two-state solution in the Middle East – support for Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security with prosperity side by side. And that that was in the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

Albanese told reporters that the global community was very concerned about the Gaza death toll, adding that the latest incident would add to this concern. “We saw an extraordinary resolution of the UN Security Council just last week [calling for a ceasefire for the remainder of Ramadan], with the United States not vetoing that proposal.

“That gives a clear indication of global opinion” about the loss of life in Gaza,“ Albanese said.

Albanese said Australians did not want the conflict to be played out here in this country. “I’m concerned about social cohesion here in Australia. I’m concerned about any attempt to try to seek some political advantage over events that happen in other parts of the world.”

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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