Amir Cohen
Amir CohenIsrael Police spokesperson

The Commander of the Border Police, Amir Cohen, on Wednesday commented on the activities of Israeli forces in Jenin and gave them full support, following the death of a 16-year-old Palestinian Arab girl who is believed to have been killed by undercover Border Police officers during clashes in Jenin this week.

Speaking at a ceremony on the occasion of a graduation of a course, Cohen said, "I emphatically and unreservedly expressed my backing and support for the officers. I state that in the investigation that was presented to me a few hours after the incident, our officers acted morally, with values, with courage, with determination and saved human lives. And for that I salute them."

He explained, "Fighting in hostile territory, as we saw recently in the Jenin sector, is sometimes accompanied by the fog of war. Meanwhile, we are obliged to make decisions under fire and in a short period of time."

"The Border Police is a professional force that thoroughly investigates every operational incident. And so it happened, in cooperation with the IDF, in the last incident in the Jenin sector in which the officers acted while actually risking their lives."

Jana Zakarneh, a 16-year-old Palestinian Arab teen, was killed on Sunday night in clashes between Israeli forces and terrorists in Jenin.

The IDF said on Monday that an initial inquiry into the incident found 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. It appears the girl who was killed had been on the roof of one of the houses near the gunmen.”

“The claim that security forces purposefully fired at uninvolved civilians is implausible and without foundation. The security forces will continue to investigate the incident and work to clarify its circumstances,” the statement added.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid expressed his condolences over the death of the 16-year-old teen. Lapid stressed that the published investigation is only preliminary, and that security forces continue to investigate the case in order to clarify the circumstances of the incident.

He said that the State of Israel will continue to thwart terrorism and capture terrorists wherever necessary, but that IDF soldiers and security forces will always take the utmost precaution to prevent civilian casualties - even in the most complex circumstances.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price later called for accountability following the death of the 16-year-old girl.

“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,” he told reporters.

National Security Minister-designate MK Itamar Ben Gvir pushed back and said, “The comments by the American government are distressing.”

“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.”

“Without a doubt, 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 hostiles killed, and not with measured, pinpoint operations.”

“I call on the residents of Jenin and the civilian population there not to leave their homes when terrorists are shooting at IDF soldiers. I give my backing to the IDF soldiers and Border Police officers. They have the right to defend themselves.”