Red Crescent Says Israel Never Reached Out About Hind Rajab’s Death, Despite State Department Claim That Israel Said Otherwise

The Israeli military never contacted the Palestine Red Crescent Society about Israel’s killing of a 6-year-old Palestinian girl, her family members, and the paramedics sent to save her, a Red Crescent spokesperson told The Intercept, refuting the State Department’s first substantive remarks about the killing that took place 148 days ago. 

“Since the attack at our ambulances that was dispatched to save Hind Rajab, there has been no investigations made by the Israelis or any contact from the Israelis to the Red Crescent,” said spokesperson Nebal Farsakh. “We as the Palestinian Red Crescent have not received any kind of communication from the Israeli military.”

On Monday, State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said that, according to Israel, the Red Crescent and the United Nations had rebuffed Israeli efforts to investigate the incident that had made headlines around the world. On January 29, Hind and her 15-year-old cousin made a desperate call to the Red Crescent, asking for help while stuck in a car with family members they said were killed by Israeli fire. After hours of negotiations with the Israeli military to coordinate safe passage, the Red Crescent dispatched an ambulance to save Hind (her cousin was killed during their first call), only for the medics to be found dead near Hind days later.

“All I can tell you is what they’ve told us. And what they have said is, they went to the U.N. and the Palestinian Red Crescent and asked them to supply information that would help them, and what they claim is that they were given none,” Miller said. 

His comments came on the heels of an independent investigation by the U.K.-based firm Forensic Architecture, which concluded that Israeli fire was most likely responsible for the attack, and that it was “not plausible” that Israeli forces would not have seen who they shot 335 bullets at.

“It’s not plausible that the shooter could not have seen that the car was occupied by civilians, including children,” the firm found. “From the tank position indicated by the greatest alignment between entry and exit holes, we concluded that the shooter would have had a clear view of the car and its passengers.”

Asked about those findings on Monday, Miller noted that Israel said there were no tanks in the area, and that the State Department couldn’t attest to any particularities because it is only conveying what Israel has said. The State Department did not respond to a follow-up question about the Red Crescent’s statement, nor did the Israeli military.

Hind, in some of her final moments to a Red Crescent dispatcher, said she had seen a tank nearby.

“They are dead,” Rajab said about her family members who were killed right in front of her. “The tank is next to me.”

“It’s almost night, I am scared,” she cried. “Come get me, please.”

The Washington Post previously confirmed there were armed military vehicles in the vicinity, as did Al Jazeera’s analysis of satellite imagery. 

Miller, when citing Israel’s claim that there were no tanks in the area, said, “I am not attesting to any of these facts.” Asked about whether the U.S. will verify any of Israel’s statements, he added, “It is not for us to do it.”

“Those agencies can come forward and provide information, it’s easy to do so. If in fact they have information, they should come forward and do it, and provide, and we’ll be happy to look at that.”

Farsakh also said that the Red Crescent and the International Red Cross received no information during the 12 days after January 29, when Hind’s whereabouts were unknown. She also noted that Tel al-Hawa, where the attack happened, was under evacuation orders issued by the Israeli military due to ongoing operations at the time. Such conditions prompted the Red Crescent to make arrangements with Israeli forces to dispatch an ambulance, a process that took three hours.

It was during those hours that Hind uttered her final, chilling pleas for help. Despite the coordination, paramedics Yusuf al-Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun were found dead, just meters from where Hind was found on February 10.

In the nearly five months since the killings, The Intercept repeatedly asked the State Department about the incident, the status of investigations, and how the U.S. could continue sending Israel aid if it could not get straightforward answers on the case. (U.S. policy requires foreign governments to provide assurances they won’t violate international law with U.S. weapons; the U.S. found that Israel likely violated law with American weapons, but did not act on the conclusion.) On almost every occasion, Miller said the U.S. was asking Israel to investigate. 

On February 14, for example, after The Intercept asked about the range of material available for an investigation to proceed, Miller said the question is “appropriately addressed to the government of Israel,” but that the U.S. wanted the incident to be investigated. Several times after, Miller either did not have an update on the “ongoing” investigation, or said the department would “come back” after getting an answer.

After nearly 150 days, the State Department finally came back with answers: ones that relied wholly on Israeli claims — assertions the U.S. admitted it did not attempt to verify, that deflated upon the slightest provocation.

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