White House 'seriously concerned' about killing of Palestinian-American in West Bank

Reports say Tawfic Abdel Jabbar was shot in the head

Palestinian-American Tawfiq Ajjaq was shot and killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank. Washington says it is looking for more details on his death. Photo: @hamdahsalhut / X
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The White House on Friday said it was “seriously concerned” about reports a Palestinian-American teenager was killed by in the occupied West Bank.

Seventeen-year-old Tawfic Abdel Jabbar, a US citizen, was fatally shot near the town of Al Mazraa Al Sharqiya, east of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Wafa news agency reported on Friday.

The State Department later confirmed the death and said it was investigating.

The boy's uncle told Reuters the incident occurred during clashes with the Israeli military that included stone-throwing by Palestinians.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the Biden administration would contact counterparts in the region for information.

“We're seriously concerned about these reports,” Mr Kirby told reporters. “We don't have a perfect context about exactly what happened here, but we're seriously concerned about it.”

The teenager was shot in the head, according to the report, and was taken to hospital where he died of his wounds.

The development comes amid a rising death toll of Palestinians in the West Bank since Israel's war on Gaza began. Palestinian Authority health officials say 369 people have been killed since October 7.

On Wednesday, seven Palestinians were killed in the West Bank by Israeli forces who carried out overnight raids on two refugee camps and a drone strike on a vehicle.

US 'deeply concerned' as Palestinian-American teenager killed in West Bank

US 'deeply concerned' as Palestinian-American teenager killed in West Bank

The development also comes on the day President Joe Biden held a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Kirby said the two leaders discussed continuing efforts to release the remaining hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, and shifting to “targeted operations,” while keeping pressure on Hamas, the group that attacked Israel on October 7, killed 1,200 people and took scores of hostages.

“The two leaders also reviewed the situation in Gaza and the shift to targeted operations that will enable the flow of increasing amounts of humanitarian assistance while keeping the military pressure on Hamas and its leaders,” Mr Kirby said.

Mr Biden wants Israel to scale down its war on Gaza, reduce civilian causalities and allow more humanitarian aid into the strip.

According to Gaza authorities, more than 24,000 Palestinians have been killed, the majority of them women and children, and most of the coastal enclave's 2.3 million residents have been displaced and are facing dire humanitarian conditions.

Mr Biden also wants Israel to release revenue to the Palestinian Authority.

Since October 7, Israel's right-wing Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has been withholding millions of dollars in tax revenue it owes to the PA, saying the money could be transferred to Hamas.

But the move could destabilise the occupied West Bank, and the PA, which administers the area and is backed by western powers.

This story was amended to update the spelling of Tawfic’s full name. An earlier version spelt it Tawfiq Ajjaq, per a State Department announcement.

Updated: January 22, 2024, 8:35 PM