‘Selfless, outstanding’ Australian aid worker killed in airstrike in central Gaza

‘Selfless, outstanding’ Australian aid worker killed in airstrike in central Gaza
  • PublishedApril 2, 2024

The family of an Australian citizen killed in an airstrike in Gaza has described the humanitarian aid worker as “an outstanding human being” driven by kindness and selflessness.

Melbourne-born Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom, along with three other international aid workers and a Palestinian driver, was killed in Central Gaza while working with the World Central Kitchen (WCK) charity.

Video footage posted to social media showed the bodies of the five dead at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah.

Melbourne-born Lalzawmi “Zomi” Frankcom was killed in Central Gaza with the World Central Kitchen charity. (Nine)

Staff showed the British, Australian and Polish passports of three of the dead.

The nationality of the fourth aid worker was not immediately known.

All of the workers killed were wearing protective gear with the charity’s logo on it.

Frankcom’s family released a statement to media this afternoon following the news of her death.

”We are deeply mourning the news that our brave and beloved Zomi has been killed doing the work she loves delivering food to the people of Gaza,” the statement reads.

“She was a kind, selfless and outstanding human being that has travelled the world helping others in their time of need.

“She will leave behind a legacy of compassion, bravery and love for all those in her orbit.

“We are still reeling from the shock and we humbly request privacy during this difficult time.”

The group was travelling through Nothern Gaza into Central Gaza when their vehicle was targeted in an airstrike, Mahmoud Thabet, a Palestinian Red Crescent paramedic, told the Associated Press.

Staff showed the passports of three of the dead – British, Australian and Polish. (Nine)

Thabet was part of a team who took the bodies to the hospital. 

The WCK aid workers had been distributing aid supplies to civilians in the north that day and were returning to Rafah when the airstrike hit them.

Three aid ships had arrived from Cyprus yesterday, carrying 400 tons of food and supplies.

The charity had organised the aid drop in conjunction with the United Arab Emirates, while the IDF was involved in coordinating the shipment’s delivery.

It is unclear why the vehicle was targeted, and the source of the strike has not been confirmed.

9News understands Frankcom, 44, had engaged in both national and international humanitarian work and helped provide aid to communities affected by the Black Summer 2019-20 bushfires in Braidwood, NSW.

She successfully completed a course at Harvard University focusing on Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster in 2021.

The WCK aid workers had been distributing aid supplies to civilians in the north that day and were returning to Rafah when the airstrike hit them. (World Central Kitchen)

Celebrity chef and humanitarian José Andrés, who founded WCK in 2010, called on Israel to “stop indiscriminate killing,” following the reported deaths.

“Today WCKitchen lost several of our sisters and brothers in an IDF air strike in Gaza,” Andrés said in a post on X.

“I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family. These are people … angels … I served alongside in Ukraine, Gaza, Turkey, Morocco, Bahamas, Indonesia.

“They are not faceless … they are not nameless. The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing.

“It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon.

“No more innocent lives lost. Peace starts with our shared humanity. It needs to start now.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was working urgently to confirm the news.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is urgently seeking to confirm reports that an Australian aid worker has died in Gaza,” the spokesperson said.

“These reports are very distressing.

“We have been clear on the need for civilian lives to be protected in this conflict.

“We have been very clear that we expect humanitarian workers in Gaza to have safe and unimpeded access to do their lifesaving work.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told the ABC he was concerned by the news.

“I’m very concerned about the loss of life that is occurring in Gaza,” he said.

“My government has supported a sustainable ceasefire, we’ve called for the release of hostages, and there have been far too many innocent lives – Palestinian and Israeli – lost during the Gaza Hamas conflict.”

World Central Kitchen earlier confirmed the attack on X, formerly Twitter.

“We are aware of reports that members of the World Central Kitchen team have been killed in an IDF attack while working to support our humanitarian food delivery efforts in Gaza.

“This is a tragedy. Humanitarian aid workers and civilians should NEVER be a target. EVER.” 

The Israeli Defence Force has also issued a statement saying it is “carrying out a thorough review at the highest level” in regards to the reported attack.


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