UN calling Zakarneh's death 'shocking' shows they don't have a clue - editorial

Death is only "shocking" when Israel inadvertently kills an innocent Palestinian, not when an Israeli is targeted by Palestinian terrorists.

Palestinian gunmen and mourners attend the funeral of 16-year-old Palestinian Jana Zakarneh, killed during an Israeli army raid, in the West Bank city Jenin, December 12, 2022.  (photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)
Palestinian gunmen and mourners attend the funeral of 16-year-old Palestinian Jana Zakarneh, killed during an Israeli army raid, in the West Bank city Jenin, December 12, 2022.
(photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

Any time an innocent person is killed within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s a tragedy.

But apparently, it’s only “shocking” when Israel inadvertently kills an innocent Palestinian, not when a Palestinian deliberately targets and murders an innocent Israeli.

That seems to be the message the United Nations is sending out. On Tuesday, in calling for an investigation into the Sunday night shooting death of Jana Zakarneh, 16, on a Jenin rooftop during armed clashes between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli forces, the spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the incident “shocking.”

“It is yet another example of the price that civilians are paying in this atmosphere where we’re seeing increased violence,” added spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.

The IDF's response to the death of Jana Zakarneh

 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (credit: REUTERS) 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (credit: REUTERS)

The youth was likely on a rooftop near where Palestinian gunmen were aiming at IDF soldiers who were doing their best to return fire in the midst of the “fog of battle.” The IDF said that an initial review of the incident found a “high probability” that Zakarneh was killed by the accidental fire of security forces directed at Palestinian gunmen.

It’s unclear why Zakarneh decided to get on a rooftop in the midst of a potentially lethal battle, but her death, as Dujarric pointed out, was indeed an example of the price civilians are paying in this atmosphere of increased violence.

However, his insinuation that the increased violence is Israel’s fault is misplaced. As anyone who pays attention to events in the region, Dujarric should know that barely a day goes by without a Palestinian attempting a terrorist attack against Israelis. Sometimes they’re thwarted by quick-acting Israeli security personnel or able civilians, and sometimes they are successful, like last month’s deadly double bomb attack in Jerusalem or stabbing/car ramming rampage in Ariel. All told, more than 20 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian terror attacks this year.

Since the end of March, in a “we’ve had it till here” move to root out the source of the ongoing attacks, the IDF launched a military operation called “Break the Wave.

According to the UN, more than 127 Palestinians have been killed this year by Israel, many of them as part of Break the Wave operations that have resulted in violent clashes or gun battles, like the one that killed Zakarneh.

The Palestinian Authority, never a body to refrain from cynically exploiting and distorting information to smear Israel, claims that Zakarneh was the 53rd Palestinian ‘“child” to be killed by Israel this year. It called on the International Criminal Court at The Hague to “investigate, urgently and effectively, Israel’s killing of Jana and the many other Palestinian children.”

We can expect such hyperbole from the PA, and it seems like we can also expect it from the UN.

Palestinian gunmen and mourners attend the funeral of 16-year-old Palestinian Jana Zakarneh, killed during an Israeli army raid, in the West Bank city Jenin, December 12, 2022.  (credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)Palestinian gunmen and mourners attend the funeral of 16-year-old Palestinian Jana Zakarneh, killed during an Israeli army raid, in the West Bank city Jenin, December 12, 2022. (credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

Zakarneh’s death was indeed tragic, political posturing aside. But it’s obscene to create a moral equivalency between the death of a teenager caught in the crossfire with a death caused by a deliberate action aimed at murdering and maiming innocent civilians. It’s even worse to single out the former as “shocking” while treating the latter with boilerplate “our thoughts are with you” sentiments.

The IDF’s prompt response in taking responsibility for Zakarneh’s death was a refreshing change from the long-delayed admission over the May death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in a similar incident.

Israel and the IDF need to realize that the continued deaths of innocent Palestinians – as well as the rising death toll of not-so-innocent Palestinians – is taking its toll on world opinion and the international community.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid did the right thing by reaching out to the Zakarneh family and offering condolences over her unnecessary and senseless death.

At the same time, Israel’s security forces must continue to be relentless in hunting down those who are planning terrorist activity. It creates a conundrum that is complex with many layers of nuance, sensitivities and implications.

By reacting so quickly to the circumstances and likely cause of Zakarneh’s death, the IDF is beginning to realize that and do something about it.

By calling Zakarneh’s death “shocking” and urging an investigation, the UN is demonstrating that it doesn’t have a clue. Unfortunately, there’s nothing shocking about that.