Israeli military says shooting 16yo Palestinian girl dead was 'unintentional'

By Hadas Gold, Abeer Salman and Celine Alkhaldi for CNN

The Israeli military admitted Monday that its troops shot Jana Zakarneh, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl who died during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Sunday night, saying she was killed by “unintentional” Israeli fire “aimed at armed gunmen.”

“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 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) statement said.

“The IDF and its commanders regret any harm to uninvolved civilians, including those who are in a combat environment and in close proximity to armed terrorists during exchanges of fire,” the statement continued.

Jana’s uncle, Majed Zakarneh, told CNN on Monday that his niece “was shot with four bullets, two to her face, one to her neck, and one to her shoulder.”

The Israeli military were “heavily shooting everywhere. Jana was inside the house with her family and when she heard people screaming she went to the rooftop to see what is happening,” Zakarneh said.

“Twenty minutes after the soldiers left the neighborhood, her father went to look for her … He found her lying on the floor with a face full of blood,” Zakarneh said.

Speaking before the IDF admitted responsibility, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he wanted to express “sorrow for her death, as for any death of someone who was not involved in terrorism, if that was indeed the case.”

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA says another two Palestinians were injured and three were arrested during the raid. The IDF confirmed three were arrested “suspected of terror involvement.”

A general strike was declared in Jenin on Monday following Jana’s killing, WAFA said, adding that “hundreds of people” took to the streets to protest “ongoing Israeli aggression”.

In a statement on Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called on the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, “to investigate the crimes of the occupation and put Israel on the blacklist.” Gamba is currently on a visit to the West Bank and Gaza.

“The murder of the child Jana Majdi Zakarneh adds to the horrific murders of children that the occupation soldiers continue to commit,” Shtayyeh said.

Zakarneh’s death brings the total number of Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank so far in 2022 to 166, a level not seen in more than a decade, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Israel says most killed have been militants or engaging violently with soldiers. But human rights groups say bystanders have also been killed.

Israel has also recorded the highest number deaths from Palestinian attacks this year in nearly 20 years, with 31 killed.

The IDF said in its statement that it had arrested three people in the raid.

“Security forces apprehended three wanted individuals suspected of terror involvement,” the statement read.

According to the IDF, the suspects threw explosives and fired at the IDF soldiers, who responded with “live fire.” No IDF injuries were reported.

On Thursday, a 16-year-old boy died after he was shot by Israeli forces in Ramallah, according to a separate statement by the Palestinian Ministry of Health last week.

“Al-Rimawi, 16-years-old, was injured by two bullets from the back. The first exited from his chest and the second exited from the abdomen,” that statement said.

The IDF said in a statement that Israeli soldiers “shot toward suspects” for throwing rocks and paint bottles at vehicles “endangered the lives of passersby” near the town of Aboud in Ramallah.