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US investigators probe killings of Palestinian Americans by Israel

Reports say US investigators visited the homes of two Palestinian-American teens who were killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank
A Palestinian woman cries at al-Najar hospital after the death of a loved one in Israeli bombardment on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on 16 February 2024 (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

The relatives of two Palestinian-American teens, who were both fatally shot in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank, said that investigators from the American embassy have made visits to their homes to probe the incidents.

US embassy officials on Thursday visited the home of 17-year-old Mohammed Ahmad Khdour and took pictures of the car he was driving, as well as pictures of the scenes surrounding the incident, the Associated Press reported.

Last week, they also collected medical and legal reports issued by the Ramallah prosecutor's office and the hospital that treated 17-year-old Tawfik Abdel Jabbar, who was killed in January.

The US Office of Palestinian Affairs wrote on X on 14 February, that it was “devastated” by the killing of Khdour and called for “a quick, thorough, and transparent investigation, including full accountability”.

A US State Department spokesperson told MEE that the US has no "higher priority than the safety and security of US citizens overseas, and we are always concerned when a US citizen dies overseas".

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They added that they are following the investigations closely and are engaged with Israeli authorities on the matter. The State Department also said that they are in touch with both families and are working to gather more information, as well as pressing Israel for further information. 

Khdour, 17, was shot dead by Israeli forces earlier this week. Relatives told AP that he was driving with a cousin on a hillside in Biddu, the town located just outside Jerusalem where Khdour had resided since he was two years old.

According to AP, Khdour was taking a break after studying and decided to go on a drive with his cousin. Before he died, they spent the day taking photos of each other for social media and eating chocolate-covered waffles.

When they were returning to their village, his cousin said they heard gunfire and a shot came through the car's window, hitting Khdour in the head. He was later pronounced dead.

Lack of investigation by Israel

Khdour's father mentioned that he was unaware of whether Israel had initiated an investigation into the case and said that he had not received any communication from Israeli authorities.

Just weeks prior to Khdour’s death, 17-year-old Jabbar was shot dead by Israeli forces as he drove a pickup truck in the occupied West Bank. 

The only other passenger in the car reported what seemed to be Israeli gunfire which struck the rear of the vehicle, causing it to overturn multiple times. 

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In late January, the United States called for an investigation in response to the death of a 17-year-old Palestinian American in the West Bank, who was killed by Israeli forces, according to Palestinian health officials.

At a briefing, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said the US had requested an immediate investigation into the death of Jabbar, who was killed on 19 January.

Palestinian health officials reported that the American-born teenager was killed by Israeli security forces in the occupied West Bank. His uncle told Reuters that his death occurred amidst clashes with the Israeli military.

"We are devastated about the killing of 17-year-old US citizen, Tawfic Abdel Jabbar, in the West Bank," Patel told reporters. "We have called for an urgent investigation to determine the circumstances of his death and accountability... as appropriate," he added.

The statement of concern from the White House led to an unusually swift commitment by the Israeli police to conduct an investigation.

But Israeli police have still not released any new findings in the case, AP reported.

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