Live blog: Israeli info on aid worker killings ‘not sufficient’ — Australia

Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong said that information from Israel about the death of an Australian aid worker killed in a Gaza air strike was “not sufficient”.

US-based World Central Kitchen — founded by Spanish-American celebrity chef Jose Andres — said a “targeted attack” by Israeli forces on Monday had killed seven aid workers.

The group included 43-year-old Australian national Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom, as well as British, Palestinian, Polish and US-Canadian employees.

After being briefed by Israeli authorities, Australia had “made clear that we have not yet received sufficient information to satisfy our expectations” about Frankcom’s death, Wong told reporters.

“We expect full accountability for her death and for the World Central Kitchen colleagues who also perished with her,” Wong said.

“We believe these deaths are utterly inexcusable, and clear practical action is needed to ensure these tragedies are never repeated.”

Wong acknowledged that Israel has confirmed that two individuals involved in the air strike have since been “stood down”.

“We reiterate that appropriate action must be taken against the individuals who are responsible for these tragic accidents,” she added.

Wong described the air strike as a “deadly failure of deconfliction” — the process by which humanitarian agencies engage with military forces to ensure their safety in conflict zones.

She says Australia wants full answers from the ongoing investigation by Israel. “It cannot be brushed aside, and it cannot be covered over,” Wong added.

“Our expectation is that there is full transparency. People have been raising concerns for some time about what is occurring in relation to humanitarian workers,” she said.

0318 GMT — Australia to appoint ‘special adviser’ on probe into Israel airstrike

Australia’s government said 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.

“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.

0053 GMT — Denmark to implement ‘very restrict approach’ in military exports to Israel

Denmark announced that it would implement a “very restrictive approach” for military exports to Israel amid the “disastrous consequences” of the ongoing onslaught in Gaza.

“As a result of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas and the disastrous consequences this has for the civilian population of Gaza, as of March 25, 2024, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has further tightened our approach to exporting military equipment to Israel,” Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said in written comments to a local news outlet Thursday.

He said Denmark will be moving from an already restrictive approach to a very restrictive approach when assessing specific applications for the export of military equipment and dual-use products to Israel.

“All arms exports to Israel, as applications, will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis,” he said, but the applications are now being assessed based on a “very restrictive approach” to the UN arms trade treaty and EU rules on arms exports.

The restriction has been placed by the government following four human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, who took Denmark to court for not complying with legal obligations in allowing arms exports to Israel.

0016 GMT — Pelosi joins call for Biden to stop supply of US arms to Israel

Representative Nancy Pelosi, former House speaker and a key ally of Joe Biden, has signed a letter from dozens of congressional Democrats to the president and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging a halt to weapons transfers to Israel.

Support from Pelosi, a veteran member of Biden’s Democratic Party, for stopping the transfer of weapons to Israel showed that the view is increasingly becoming mainstream in the party.

The letter called on the Biden administration to conduct its own probe into an Israeli air strike that killed seven staff of the aid group World Central Kitchen on Monday.

“In light of the recent strike against aid workers and the ever-worsening humanitarian crisis, we believe it is unjustifiable to approve these weapons transfers,” the letter said. It was signed by Pelosi and 36 other Democrats, including Representatives Barbara Lee, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

0000 GMT — Israeli army admits killing settler near Gaza Strip on October 7

The Israeli army acknowledged that it killed a settler by fire from one of its helicopters in Gaza on October 7.

”According to the investigation, amid battles that took place in southern Israel on October 7, an IAF helicopter opened fire against a car with several terrorists in it,” the Times of Israeli newspaper cited a military statement.

”It was later revealed, based on eyewitnesses and surveillance camera footage, that the vehicle also had Israeli hostages in it,” said the newspaper.

”As a result of the shooting, most of the terrorists in the vehicle were killed, and apparently the late Efrat Katz.”

The findings were shared with Katz’s family on Friday, according to the statement.

The military said the probe found that its surveillance systems could not distinguish Israeli hostages from Hamas terrorists in moving vehicles, and therefore the shooting was ”defined as shooting at a vehicle with terrorists.”

2353 GMT — Targeting World Central Kitchen’s crew in Gaza ‘should not have occurred’: Israeli army

The Israeli army admitted that an attack on the World Central Kitchen in Gaza that killed seven aid workers “should not have occurred.”

The army acknowledged an investigation of the attack that “those who approved the strike were convinced that they were targeting armed Hamas operatives and, not WCK employees.”

“The event occurred on April 1, 2024, during an operation to transfer humanitarian aid from the WCK to the Gaza Strip,” it said in a statement.

It added that “the investigation found that the forces identified a gunman on one of the aid trucks, following which they identified an additional gunman.”

“After the vehicles left the warehouse where the aid had been unloaded, one of the commanders mistakenly assumed that the gunmen were located inside the accompanying vehicles and that these were Hamas terrorists,” it said.

The army claimed investigation results showed its forces “did not identify the vehicles in question as being associated with World Central Kitchen.”

2315 GMT — Jordan demands opening of all crossings, end to starvation in Gaza

Jordan has urged the opening of all land crossings into besieged Gaza and an end to starvation in the blockaded enclave.

“All land crossings to Gaza must be opened. A ceasefire must begin now,” Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi wrote on X. “UN must be in charge of all humanitarian operations and have full access.”

Safadi noted that “anything short of that’ll be another lie and won’t even begin to address the catastrophe Israel has created,” stressing that “starvation of Gazans must end.”

2217 GMT — Illegal Israeli settlers torch 4 Palestinian homes in eastern West Bank

Israeli illegal settlers have burned four Palestinian homes in a Bedouin community in northern Jericho in the eastern occupied West Bank.

Hassan Malihat, general supervisor of the Al-Baydar Organisation for Defending Bedouin Rights, told Anadolu Agency that Zionist settlers attacked the Ras Al-Ain Bedouin community and torched the homes.

He warned of the implementation of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians from a settlers’ war against the Palestinian Bedouin communities in the eastern West Bank, known as the Al-Aghwar area, which constitutes 30 percent of the total West Bank area.

Malihat stressed “the necessity to provide international protection for the Bedouins in the light of the ethnic cleansing against them.”

2200 GMT — Israel conducts raids in West Bank, wounds 3 Palestinians

The Israeli army has wounded at least three Palestinians during night raids in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said the army raided the village of Osarin, near Nablus in the northern West Bank, and fought with Palestinians.

It added that medical teams transferred one Palestinian wounded by an Israeli live bullet to the hospital.

The official Palestinian news agency, WAFA, reported an Israeli invasion into the town of Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank, where the army opened fire at Palestinians, resulting in wounds to two civilians, including a 14-year-old.

2132 GMT — Colombia seeks to intervene in ICJ genocide case against Israel

Colombia has asked the International Court of Justice [ICJ] to allow it to intervene in the lawsuit that South Africa filed against Israel for acts of “genocide” in besieged Gaza, the court reported.

“Today, Colombia, invoking Article 63 of the Statute of the Court, filed in the Registry of the Court a declaration of intervention in the case concerning the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip,” it said in a statement.

Colombia made it clear that it does not seek to become part of the process initiated by South Africa, but it wants to submit its declaration “in the genuine belief that the States parties to the Genocide Convention should do everything in their power to contribute to ensure the prevention, suppression and punishment of genocide.”

The ICJ at the Hague has the prerogative to allow states to give their views, and several states have said they will also seek to intervene in the case.

The Colombian Foreign Ministry urged other countries to “join the process.”

2111 GMT — Israel approves Jordanian aid trucks to enter Gaza directly through Israel

Israel has greenlighted the entry of Jordanian humanitarian aid trucks into besieged Gaza, directly passing through Israeli territory, according to Israeli public broadcaster KAN.

It is the first time Israel gave permission for direct entry of aid passing through Israel to Gaza, which has been under an Israeli onslaught since October 7.

The decision was made following an Israeli Cabinet meeting. KAN reported that trucks would pass through the Allenby Bridge crossing, also known as King Hussein border crossing, between the occupied West Bank and Jordan and then through Israeli territory on its way to Gaza.

2016 GMT — Hamas welcomes UNHRC resolution demanding halt of arms sales to Israel

Palestinian resistance group Hamas has welcomed the UN Human Rights Council passing a resolution demanding a halt in arms sales to Israel and calling for Israel to be held accountable for possible war crimes in Gaza.

In a statement, Hamas called the resolution “an important step on the path of pressuring the (Israeli) occupation to stop its brutal and destructive war against civilians in the Gaza Strip.”

The group also called on “the international community and the United Nations to take practical measures to oblige countries and companies that supply weapons to the (Israeli) terrorist occupation entity to implement this resolution immediately.”

The statement demanded that countries, particularly the US, “stop providing military and political support to the (Israeli) fascist occupation and its criminal army.”

The 47-member Human Rights Council voted 28-6 in favour of the resolution, with 13 abstentions.

The motion was brought by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation. Argentina, Bulgaria, Germany, Malawi, Paraguay, and the US voted against the motion, excluding Albania.

2000 GMT — US urges Egypt, Qatar to press Hamas on hostage deal with Israel

President Joe Biden has written to the leaders of Egypt and Qatar, calling on them to press Hamas resistance group for a hostage deal with Israel, according to a senior administration official, a day after Hamas accused Tel Aviv of being “intransigent,” saying it has rejected every proposal put forward.

The letters to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani come as Biden has deployed CIA Director Bill Burns to Cairo for talks this weekend about the hostage crisis.

White House officials say negotiating a pause in Israel’s war on Gaza to facilitate the exchange of hostages held in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel is the only way to put a temporary ceasefire into effect and boost the flow of badly humanitarian aid into the territory.

Hamas, however, says despite its high flexibility in facilitating a deal, the Israeli position remains “intransigent” and refuses to respond to the Palestinian side’s demands.

Among Hamas’s demands include a complete halt to Israeli aggression on Gaza, the withdrawal of the Israeli invading army from the tiny enclave, the return of displaced Palestinians to their homes in northern Gaza, an increase in the flow of humanitarian aid into the enclave, and the start of Gaza’s reconstruction process.

Tel Aviv believes 134 Israelis are being held hostage in Gaza since October, while it holds at least 9,100 Palestinians in its notorious jails and torture chambers.

1930 GMT — Egypt arrests 10 after rally calling for snapping ties with Israel

A human rights lawyer in Egypt has said that authorities arrested 10 activists who participated in a pro-Palestinian protest, where they accused the government of contributing to the siege of Gaza and called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador.

Egypt has condemned Israel’s war in Gaza and has played a central role in trying to broker a ceasefire but it has largely banned public protests, and criticism of the country’s ties with Israel is highly sensitive.

On Wednesday, nearly 200 people rallied outside the building of the Journalist Syndicate in Cairo, waving the Palestinian flag and chanting slogans: “What a disgrace! Egypt is helping the siege!” and “No to the I sraeli Embassy! No to normalization.”

Later Wednesday, 10 activists who took part in the protest were arrested at their homes, and the next day prosecutors ordered their detention for 15 days while investigations were carried out, according to their lawyer Nabeh Elganadi.

Critics have called for Egypt to overturn a 2007 agreement that grants Israel the right to inspect convoys entering Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. They say it has allowed Israel to keep the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s 2.4 million Palestinians at a trickle.



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