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US to query Israel about 6-year-old’s killing in Gaza, State Dept says

By Simon Lewis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department will ask Israel for more information about the January death of 6-year-old Palestinian Hind Rajab in Gaza, spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Tuesday, calling for a full investigation into the matter after a Washington Post report cast doubt on Israel’s earlier explanation.

The terrified girl trapped in a car in Gaza with her dead family had begged for help in a phone call to rescuers, in which gunfire could be heard as she described Israeli forces drawing near.

Relatives found her body 12 days later along with those of her aunt, uncle and their three children in their car near an ambulance and two dead ambulance workers who had tried to save her.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that an investigation had found Israeli armored vehicles were present in the area, contrary to the Israeli Defense Forces’ claim that a preliminary investigation had found its forces were not within firing range of the car in which she was trapped.

“We’re going to go back to the government of Israel and ask them for further information,” Miller said at a press briefing, calling Hind Rajab’s death “an unspeakable tragedy, something that never should have occurred and never should occur.”

“We would still welcome a full investigation into this matter and how it occurred in the first place,” Miller added.

Israel’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. officials have said they are reviewing incidents of civilian harm in Israel’s six-month-old war in Gaza as part of processes meant to ensure U.S.-provided weapons are not used in breaches of international humanitarian law.

Miller said in Hind Rajab’s case, rather than the United States conducting its own review, it had asked Israel what its own investigation had found.

“That’s what we’ll be going back to them to do with the new details that were raised by the Washington Post,” Miller said.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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