State Dept. Spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Monday that Israel’s killing of Jana Zakarneh, 16, in Jenin, was a tragic incident.
Zakarneh stood on a rooftop Sunday night, next to armed terrorists who were attacking Border Police fighters in the street below, opened massive fire on the soldiers, and threw explosive devices and Molotov cocktails at them. The girl was killed by Border Police return fire. The IDF Spokesman reported the killing was not intentional.
Arab media also released a photo the girl had just publicized of IDF troops entering Jenin, potentially implicating the girl as a spotter for the terrorists. Her uncle denied the teenage girl had a phone with her.
The big difference between Sunday’s unfortunate incident and the similarly unintentional killing of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh last May was the fact that the IDF immediately accepted responsibility and was able to report on the circumstances that made it inevitable––instead of getting mixed up in denial and speculations that steered the debate away from the facts of the incident, adding a needless air of suspicion and coverup.
Spokesman Price said: “We do express our profound condolences to the family of Jana Zakarneh, the young teenage girl who was killed. 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. I did note that outgoing Prime Minister Lapid did offer his condolences to the family of Jana Zakarneh, and we note that that her tragic death comes in the context of the escalating violence in the West Bank that we’ve noted and lamented for some time now.”
Price then commented: “It is this 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.”
Here’s the thing: Israel sends its soldiers to arrest bloodthirsty terrorists who are carrying out violent raids against civilians as part of a culture of hate and murder. If Mr. Price would volunteer to visit Jenin and talk them into turning their murder energies into, say, jobs in hi-tech, that would be fabulous.
As to innocent civilians who are hurt in the middle of gun battles, it is recommended that they stay indoors. Because guns occasionally kill innocent people but staying inside often remedies the situation.
At the same time, this was an important lesson to the IDF: come clean immediately while providing moral support to the soldiers, and never throw them under the bus. And if a soldier messes up, which can happen, don’t make a big stinky news story out of it by publicly condemning him. A case in point: Omar As’ad, 78, an American citizen who died a few hours after he had been detained by Israeli soldiers in the village of Jaljulia in Judea and Samaria.
But because the IDF accepted responsibility––without throwing the soldiers under the bus––here’s what Price had to say Monday about the case: “We do note the statement on the report of the IDF commander’s inquiry into the cause and its findings, including the determination that, quote, ‘the incident showed a clear lapse of moral judgment,’ and a failure to protect, quote, ‘the sanctity of any human life,’ and as well as the – and we also note that disciplinary action is being taken against three commanders of the unit involved in the incident, the unit at the heart of your question.”
Every time the IDF forgets it is its job to protect the soldiers, even while disciplining them, the other side will take advantage of it. Let’s hope the new government, with a pro-Israel defense minister, will have the wisdom to avoid working for the other side.