Israel said Monday its forces unintentionally shot dead a Palestinian girl during a raid in Jenin, a flashpoint city in the occupied West Bank where dozens of Palestinians including local fighters have been killed in recent months.
Israel’s army said it came under fire during an operation late Sunday to arrest three people “suspected of terror involvement”.
“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,” an army statement said, adding that no troops were hurt.
Sixteen-year-old Jana Zakarna was alone on the roof of her home late Sunday when she was targeted by an Israeli sniper positioned in an empty building, her relatives told AFP.
“She went up (to the roof) to fetch her cat and never came back, so her brother went up to look for her; he opened the door and found Jana lying here on her back,” said Yasser Mahmoud Zakarna, 28, the teenager’s uncle.
Describing his niece’s wounds, he said she was “shot with four bullets in deadly spots: in the head, the face, and twice in the chest. They have truly killed childhood.”
A white cat walked around the rooftop, where there was a pool of blood and yellow tape marking what the Zakarna family said were bullet holes.
Three Palestinians were wounded in the Israeli raid, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society whose medics operate in the area.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War. The country’s defence minister, Benny Gantz, said on Monday soldiers “do not shoot deliberately at uninvolved people.”
Hussein Al Sheikh, a senior Palestinian official, called on “regional and international bodies to immediately investigate the execution” of Zakarna.
Israeli forces have launched near-daily raids in the northern West Bank since fatal attacks carried out by Palestinians or Arab-Israelis targeting Israelis earlier this year.
At least 150 Palestinians and 26 Israelis have been killed this year across Israel, the contested city of Jerusalem, and the West Bank. A further 49 Palestinians were killed during three days of fighting between Gaza militants and Israel in August.
Militants, children as young as 12 and veteran Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh are among more than 40 Palestinians killed in the Jenin area during Israeli operations this year.
After his niece’s death, Zakarna said “there’s no way to be safe” during the frequent raids.
A general strike was called in Jenin following the girl’s killing, prompting shopkeepers to pull down their shutters. Mourners gathered for the funeral, with olive branches placed on her body which was wrapped in a Palestinian flag