A senior Biden administration official on Thursday called the family of an unarmed Palestinian woman who was shot and killed by Israeli troops earlier in the week to offer condolences.
The call from George Noll, who heads the Palestinian unit at the US embassy in Israel, to the family of Ghada Sabateen represents a relatively rare decision by the administration to weight the killing of a non-US Palestinian.
However, the widowed 47-year-old mother of six had American relatives.
“The United States welcomes Israel’s decision to investigate its fatal shooting,” the Palestinian Authority tweeted in an apparent reference to the IDF’s statement on the incident on Sunday, which said it was “clarifying” what had happened. The IDF has not yet published any formal investigation into the case.
Asked Thursday for an update on efforts to establish the circumstances of Sabateen’s death, an IDF spokesman issued the same statement the military made four days earlier.
In recordings of the incident The saboteur, who was partially blind, could be seen raising her hands as she ran at a temporary checkpoint in her West Bank village of Husan when soldiers shot her and caused her to fall.
The army said at the time that the Sabate had approached Israeli soldiers “in a suspicious manner.” A military spokesman later confirmed she was unarmed.
“The force opened fire as part of a suspected arrest procedure that involved firing into the air. After she did not stop, the soldiers fired at her lower body,” Israeli defense forces said in a statement.
#Witness The moment the occupying forces executed the martyr Ghada Sabateen in the city of Husan, west of Bethlehem.
The martyr is the widow and mother of six children. pic.twitter.com/vvtp6WTp3j
– Newpress | New Press (@NewpressPs) April 10, 2022
Soldiers provided first aid to Sabateen, after which she was rushed by Palestinian doctors to a Beit Jala hospital, where she died of blood loss from a torn artery in her thigh.
Sabateen’s aunt Mona spoke to the daily Haaretz. “I tried to get there and the soldiers raised their weapons in my direction and told me I could not. I told them she was the daughter of my sister – how can I stay away? I asked a soldier if they had anything on her and he said no. Had she done anything? He said no. The soldier said to me, ‘Sorry, I’m sorry.’
“Why did he shoot her? He could have pushed her away and she would have fallen to the ground,” she asked.
A Palestinian TV reporter who was in Husan to make a story about the impact of the IDF’s temporary checkpoints in the middle of the city captured the incident on camera.
Witnesses said the saboteur panicked when he heard the soldiers firing into the air and started running towards the fence before turning to the troops.
Her family has denied that Sabateen was trying to end her life as she was dedicated to taking care of her children.
PAU chief George Noll spoke with the family of Ghada Sabteen yesterday to express our condolences. The United States welcomes Israel’s decision to investigate her fatal shooting.
– US Palestinian Affairs Unit (@USPalAffairs) April 14, 2022
Sabateen was one of 15 Palestinians shot and killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank since the beginning of the month.
Sabateen lived with his children and parents in the small village of Husan. She had lived in Jordan for years before returning to the West Bank after her husband’s death, Husan’s local councilor Taha Hamamra told The Times of Israel.
The last time the Biden administration weighed in on the death of a Palestinian was after 78-year-old Omar As’ad, a U.S. citizen, suffered a fatal heart attack after being tied up, gagged and left on a construction site in the January cold. of Israeli soldiers.
The State Department condemned the incident and demanded an independent investigation.
Two junior officers were removed from their posts due to Asad’s death, and the head of the unit, the Netzah Yehuda Battalion, was formally censored, but no other disciplinary action was taken following the Israeli investigation.
Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.