The United States said it wants to see "accountability" after a 16-year-old Palestinian girl was found dead on the roof of her building in Jenin, following a battle between Israeli troops and militants from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group late Sunday night.
“We do express our profound condolences to the family of Jana Zakarna, the young teenage girl who was killed,” U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price said. “It’s a heartbreaking incident any time you hear of a civilian being killed in these types of [military] operations. We understand the IDF is undertaking an investigation into what happened. We hope to see accountability in this case.”
An initial Israeli investigation concluded that the girl was likely hit by an Israeli sniper, but stressed it was unintentional.
“Following an initial inquiry, it was determined that the girl who was killed was hit by unintentional fire aimed at armed gunmen on a roof in the area from which the force was fired upon,” the IDF said in a statement. “It appears the girl who was killed had been on the roof of one of the houses near the gunmen.”
The IDF said “the claim that security forces purposefully fired at uninvolved civilians is implausible and without foundation.”
During the Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem, Israeli Defense Forces International Spokesman Lt.-Col. Richard Hecht said the girl’s death was “unfortunate” and occurred during a military operation in the city. Hecht called Jenin a “hornet’s nest” and said the “IDF is going in there because the Palestinian Authority isn’t going in there” to root out terrorists.
The tragedy occurred while the United Nations’ special representative for Children and Armed Conflict is visiting the region. The Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh called on Virginia Gamba “to investigate the occupation’s crimes against children and put Israel on the blacklist.”
Footage on social media showed Israeli troops emerging from a white van and almost immediately coming under fire. One of the soldiers can be heard saying, “They’re shooting at us.”
“Following the arrests, violent riots developed, including live fire and explosives from various ranges,” a Border Police spokesperson said.
Israel’s Border Police arrested three terror suspects in Jenin during the operation and confiscated at least one weapon, an M16 rifle. Three other Palestinians were reported wounded during the raid.
In additional raids on Sunday, Israeli troops arrested 15 wanted Palestinians.
Jenin has become a flashpoint in the most recent wave of unrest, with Israeli forces conducting raids and arrests multiple times over the last few weeks. The IDF has reported an increase in the number of attacks and attempted attacks – 300 this year, compared to only 91 last year.
Price noted that Zakarna's death “comes in the context of the escalating violence in the West Bank that we’ve noted and lamented for some time now” including “an alarming increase in Palestinian and Israeli deaths and injuries, including injuries to numerous children and now the death of a young Palestinian teenager.”
“We reiterate the need for all parties to take steps to de-escalate the situation. It’s vital that the parties themselves take urgent action to prevent even greater loss of life,” he added.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.