Palestinian girl, 3, mistakenly killed by Israeli police in checkpoint attack

A three-year-old Palestinian girl was accidentally killed after Israeli police opened fire at two suspected attackers who rammed their car into a West Bank checkpoint.

The youngster who died was in a van in front of a car which officers opened fired this evening (Sunday, 7 January), Israeli police and medical officials said.

The two suspects, a man and a woman, were also shot, while a young police officer was lightly hurt.

The attack comes hours after nine people were killed in other unrest in the occupied territory, which has experienced a surge of violence since Israel’s war against Hamas started on 7, October.

Israeli police said the ramming took place at a checkpoint near the Palestinian village of Biddu, just north-west of Jerusalem.

Security camera footage showed a white car ploughing into two Israeli police officers at the checkpoint, before officers chased the vehicle and opened fire.

Police said a man and woman inside the car were shot, but a girl in a van in front of them was shot as well.

The girl, who was reported to be three or four years old, was pronounced dead by Israel’s Magen David Adom rescue service.

The conditions of the suspected attackers was not immediately known, but the rescue service said a female officer in the paramilitary border police was lightly wounded.

Earlier on Sunday, a man driving a car with Israeli number plates was fatally shot at a busy intersection in the West Bank, hours after a violent confrontation elsewhere left seven Palestinians and a border policewoman dead.

The victim in the drive-by shooting was later identified as a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem.

The assailants presumably mistook him for an Israeli because of the number plates.

Palestinian militants have carried out scores of shooting attacks against Israelis in the West Bank over the years, and the military described Sunday’s shooting as such an incident.

The Israeli army said security forces were searching the area for the gunman.

Israeli media reported that security forces found an abandoned car that was likely to have been used to carry out the attack, and the suspect fled on foot.

Meanwhile, an Israeli air strike on a car near Rafah in southern Gaza killed two Palestinian journalists who were reporting at the time, according to health officials in Gaza and the journalists’ union there.

Hamza Al-Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya were both freelancers. Al-Dahdouh had done freelance work for Al Jazeera and was the son of the Qatar-based TV station’s chief correspondent in Gaza, Wael Al-Dahdouh. A third freelancer, Hazem Rajab, was wounded.

Al Jazeera Media Network condemned the killing of the two and said it had been a deliberate attack.

The network said in a statement: “We urge the International Criminal Court, the governments and human rights organisations, and the United Nations to hold Israel accountable for its heinous crimes and demand an end to the targeting and killing of journalists.”

Hours earlier, a deadly confrontation erupted when Israeli security forces were on patrol to search for roadside bombs in Jenin, a town and adjacent urban refugee camp in the northern West Bank.

A roadside bomb exploded near a vehicle of the paramilitary border police, killing a policewoman and wounding three others, police said.

An Israeli military helicopter targeted Palestinians in the area who were throwing explosives at Israeli vehicles and extracted the Israeli forces, the Israeli army said.

Seven Palestinians were killed in the air strike, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Mujahhid Nazal, a doctor at a nearby clinic, said he heard a “strong explosion” and rushed to the scene.

“It was a really dire situation, seven young men were lying on the ground,” he said.

At a funeral for six of those killed in Jenin, four of the men were wrapped in the green flags of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that has been locked in a war with Israel in Gaza for the past three months.

The two others were covered by the Palestinian flag and the yellow banner of the Fatah movement, a Hamas rival.

The latest events followed a dramatic surge in deadly military raids and increase in restrictions on Palestinian residents across the West Bank during the Israel-Hamas war.

Violence against Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the territory has also reached record highs, according to the United Nations.

The Palestinian Health Ministry says Israeli forces have killed 330 Palestinians in the West Bank since Hamas’s cross-border attack in southern Israel in October.

Most of the Palestinians were killed during shootouts in the West Bank that the Israeli military says began during operations to arrest Palestinian gunmen.

Additional reporting by AP.