Al Jazeera investigation finds Israeli presence in killing of 6-year-old Palestinian girl

Ahram Online , Monday 26 Feb 2024

An investigation by Al Jazeera Digital indicates that Israeli soldiers were indeed present in the area where six-year-old Hind Rajab, five of her family members, and two Palestine Red Crescent Society medics were killed in Tal Al-Hawa on January 29th, contradicting Israel's claims to the contrary.

Hind Rajab
This undated handout photograph obtained courtesy of the family shows six-year-old Palestinian girl Hind Rajab posing for a picture. AFP


After the killing of the girl, the Israeli army said they would investigate the incident, but now they claim Israeli troops were not present in the Tal al-Hawa, when the killing occurred.

According to a report by the Times of Israel, Israeli officials said their initial investigation showed that troops were not present in the area when Hind and her family members were killed.

“It appears that … troops were not present near the vehicle or within firing range of the described vehicle in which the girl was found,” a statement from the Israeli army read.

This contradicts Hind's distress call to the Red Crescent, in which she mentioned an Israeli tank near the car where she was trapped.

“Also, given the lack of forces in the area, there was no need for individual coordination of the movement of the ambulance or another vehicle to pick up the girl,” the Israeli statement said, which goes counter to PRCS’s statement that it had been working to coordinate with the Israeli army.

The statement went on to claim that medics are moving without restriction throughout the Gaza Strip, which goes also against multiple accounts out of Gaza.

However, Sanad, Al Jazeera’s investigations unit, analyzed phone records and satellite imagery to prove that there were Israeli troops near the car belonging to Hind’s family that day.

The vehicle, the investigation found, had been stopped by the Israeli military near a petrol station in Tal Al-Hawa around early afternoon on 29 January.

A phone call from Hind’s uncle to a relative in Germany triggered the PRCS intervention. Al Jazeera obtained messages between the relatives, time-stamping the last few hours of the deadly ordeal when Hind and one of her cousins, 15-year-old Layan, were still alive.

Layan, who was the first on the call with the PRCS, identified Israeli tanks near the car, saying: “They are firing at us; the tank is beside me.” Within minutes, a round of what sounded like gunfire went off and a screaming Layan went quiet.

When Hind picked up the phone and spoke to the PRCS, she also identified Israeli military vehicles near the family car. “The tank is next to me. [It’s] coming from the front of the car,” she said. Around three hours later, the connection with Hind was cut off.

Al Jazeera’s analysis of satellite images taken at midday on 29 January corroborated Hind and Layan’s accounts, and put at least three Israeli tanks just 270m (886 feet) from the family’s car, with their guns pointed at it.


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