Ben-Gvir slams US comments on accidental IDF shooting, advises civilians to avoid line of fire

The lawmaker advised civilians in Jenin “not to leave their homes when terrorists are shooting at IDF soldiers.”

By World Israel News Staff

Incoming National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir fired back against comments made by the U.S. State Department regarding “accountability” for the death of a 16-year-old girl who was accidentally shot by IDF troops during a fierce gun battle between Israeli soldiers and terrorists in the city.

The Otzma Yehudit party leader acknowledged that the death of the girl was tragic, however, Israeli forces were facing heavy fire from terrorists on nearby rooftops.

“The comments by the American government are upsetting,” Ben-Gvir said in a statement quoted by Arutz Sheva.

“When hundreds of bullets were fired by terrorists at IDF soldiers and Border Police officers, we cannot judge our soldiers as if they are working in a laboratory situation.

“There’s no doubt that the teenage girl’s death is a tragedy, but there is also no doubt that any other army in the world would have completed the kind of operation we carried out in Jenin with dozens of [bystanders] killed, and not with measured, focused operations.”

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The IDF prioritizes keeping civilian casualties to an absolute minimum, he said.

Ben-Gvir advised civilians in Jenin “not to leave their homes when terrorists are shooting at IDF soldiers.”

Relatives of Jana Zakarneh, the slain girl, gave conflicting reasons as to why she had gone up to the roof of the family home during the intense fighting. Her father said that she was trying to determine the cause of the commotion, while her uncle said she was looking for her pet cat.

She was caught in the crossfire between terrorists on nearby rooftops and IDF soldiers.

Zakarneh’s uncle told Arabic-language radio station A-Shams that the family had heard the noisy gun battle but believed that their home was not in the line of fire.

“There was an exchange of gunfire about 50 meters away, and she didn’t think she would be hurt,” he said. “After a few minutes, her father went up and found her there lying on the floor.”

The uncle, who did not want to be identified by name, told Haaretz on Monday that “we know that Israeli snipers are always stationed on the roofs of surrounding buildings during operations.”

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Serious questions about slain girl’s activities

Zakarhneh’s choice to go up to the roof during a period of heavy gunfire sparked questions among some in the Israeli public, who questioned whether she was filming IDF troops, possibly in order to aid the terrorists.

Zakarneh’s family vehemently denied that claim.

Nevertheless, “Zakarneh’s presence next to an armed terrorist during a firefight with the Israeli military raises serious questions about her degree of involvement. Initial investigations indicate, for instance, that she regularly served as a photographer for gunmen in her neighborhood. And cellphone footage from her camera isn’t the only evidence,” noted analyst Ruthie Blum in a JNS piece..