Prosecutors in Poland open homicide investigation into Israeli strike that killed Polish aid worker in Gaza

Prosecutors in Poland have initiated an investigation into the killing of Polish national Damian Soból (pictured above), one of the aid workers who died during an Israeli airstrike on a humanitarian convoy in Gaza on Monday.

The speaker of Poland’s parliament has also called for a war crime investigation into the incident. Israel’s ambassador to Poland, however, has accused some Polish politicians on the far right and left of antisemitism in their response to the tragedy.

Poland has called on Israel to explain the circumstances of the strike in Gaza that killed @WCKitchen aid workers, including one Polish citizen.

Israel has expressed “sincere sorrow” and pledged to carry out a “thorough and transparent” investigation

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) April 2, 2024

In a brief statement, the district prosecutor’s office in Przemyśl, the city that Soból came from, announced that it had “initiated an investigation into the homicide of Polish citizen Damian Soból on the night of 1-2 April 2024 in Gaza as a result of an attack by the Israeli Armed Forces using explosives”.

Under Poland’s criminal code, such a crime carries a prison sentence of between 12 years and life.

In Monday’s attack, missiles reportedly fired by Israeli drones killed seven aid workers who had been in a convoy belonging to World Central Kitchen (WCK). Along with Soból, the victims included British, Australian and Palestinian nationals, as well as a dual American-Canadian citizen.

Bellingcat has just published an initial analysis of the Israeli strikes that killed World Central Kitchen workers in Gaza:

— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) April 2, 2024

Israel’s actions have been condemned across the political spectrum in Poland. This morning, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who did not comment on the incident yesterday, published a statement on social media addressed to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and ambassador, Yacov Livne.

“The vast majority of Poles showed full solidarity with Israel after Hamas’s attack,” wrote Tusk. “Today you are putting this solidarity to a very severe test. The tragic attack on volunteers and your reaction arouse understandable anger.”

Tusk’s predecessor as prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, yesterday declared that the incident “incriminates Israel and requires the urgent identification of those responsible for this blatant violation of international law which led to the deaths of innocent people”.

“The Polish government has a duty to ensure those responsible for this tragedy will face the most severe consequences and that such a tragedy will never happen again in the future,” added Morawiecki, whose Law and Justice (PiS) party forms Poland’s main opposition.

Things must be called by their proper name.

The volunteers delivering aid in the Gaza Strip, which included a Pole, were killed by an Israeli rocket attack. This should never have happened. This incriminates Israel and requires the urgent identification of those responsible for…

— Mateusz Morawiecki (@MorawieckiM) April 2, 2024

Meanwhile, the speaker of parliament, Szymon Hołownia, who is also one of the leading figures in Tusk’s ruling coalition, yesterday called for the incident in Gaza to be investigated as a war crime.

“It is clear that the Israelis have the right to defend themselves and their territory against Hamas terrorists, but no one has the right to kill civilians and aid workers,” Hołownia told broadcaster TVP on Tuesday.

“If someone shoots civilians in war, it is a war crime, very precisely described in international law,” he continued. “Poland should demand not only compensation for the family of the Pole who died in the attack, but also prosecution of this war crime.”

Polish foreign minister Radosław Sikorski today told Polskie Radio that “Israel should apologise and pay compensation” if it is confirmed that it was responsible for the tragedy.

“If someone shoots civilians…it is a war crime,” says the speaker of parliament, who adds that Poland should not only seek comepnsation for the family of the deceased Polish citizen but also a war-crime investigation

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) April 2, 2024

Yesterday, ambassador Livne echoed his country’s armed forces, prime minister and president in expressing regret for the deaths. However, Livne also accused some Polish politicians of antisemitism in their comments on the incident.

He referred in particular to comments yesterday by Krzysztof Bosak, one of the leaders of the far-right Confederation (Konfederacja) party and a deputy speaker of parliament. Bosak suggested the WCK convoy had been deliberately targetted by Isreal to “terrorise humanitarian organisations” and cause famine in Gaza.

In response, Livne condemned “the extreme right and the left in Poland [for] accusing Israel of international homicide in yesterday’s attack”. He then noted that Bosak is a party colleague of Grzegorz Braun, an MP who attacked a Jewish Hannukah celebration in parliament in December.

“Conclusion: antisemites will always remain antisemites, and Israel will remain a democratic Jewish state that fights for its right to exist,” wrote Livne.

Skrajna prawica i lewica w Polsce oskarżają Izrael o umyślne morderstwo we wczorajszym ataku, w skutek którego śmierć ponieśli członkowie organizacji humanitarnej, w tym obywatel Polski. Wicemarszałek Sejmu i lider Konfederacji Krzysztof Bosak twierdzi, że Izrael popełnia…

— Amb. Yacov Livne 🇮🇱 (@YacovLivne) April 2, 2024

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Main image credit: Greta Ostrowska/Facebook

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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