‘I salute them’: Israel’s Border Police backs up fighters who shot teen girl

“They acted with determination and courage – I salute them,” Border Police said in defense of the fighters who inadvertently shot a 16-year-old girl situated in the line of fire.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Following outrage from the Palestinians coupled with a demand from the U.S. State Department for “accountability” from Israel over the accidental shooting on Sunday of a teenage girl during a counterterrorism operation in Jenin, the Border Police defended its fighters.

At a military graduation ceremony Wednesday evening, Border Police Commander Amir Cohen said, “These fighters acted with morality, values, courage, and determination and saved human lives, and for that I salute them.”

Sixteen-year-old Jana Zakharneh was standing on the rooftop of her home next to an armed terrorist when she was shot, possibly by a Border Police officer, who an unidentified IDF official described as an”outstanding” sniper. The sniper misidentified Zakharneh and took her for another terrorist as she tried to flee, a senior IDF officer said on Monday.

“A decorated and experienced Border Police sniper spotted two figures on a rooftop, one of whom was armed and opened fire. He shot at one of the figures when she tried to run away. We estimate that she was standing next to one of the armed men. She may have been observed and mistakenly identified as a gunman. Unfortunately, she was killed.

“The claim that security forces shot at uninvolved people on purpose is unfounded and baseless,” the officer stated.

Read  IDF floods Samaria with reinforcements in attempt to de-escalate security situation

During a press briefing Monday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “It is a tragic incident. It’s a heartbreaking incident any time you hear of a civilian being killed in these types of operations. We understand the IDF is undertaking an investigation into what happened. We hope to see accountability in this case.”

Otzma Yehudit party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir slammed Price’s comments, noting that the victim was standing in the line of fire.

“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,” he said, adding the the IDF prioritizes keeping civilian casualties to an absolute minimum.

Furthermore, “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..