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Blinken offers condolences on reported killings of two Americans in West Bank and calls for investigation

<i>Armando Babani/AP</i><br/>Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Armando Babani/AP
Secretary of State Antony Blinken

By Jennifer Hansler, CNN

(CNN) — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday offered his “deepest condolences” to the families of two Palestinian-American teenagers “who reportedly were killed” in the West Bank and said that there must be an investigation into their deaths.

“We’ve made clear that with regard to the incidents you’ve alluded to, there needs to be an investigation. We need to get the facts. And if appropriate, there needs to be accountability,” Blinken said at a press conference in Albania in response to a question from CNN’s Alex Marquardt.

Two 17-year-old Palestinian-Americans were reportedly killed in the West Bank by Israeli forces in less than a month. 17-year-old Mohammad Ahmed Mohammad Khdour was shot in the head by Israeli forces on Saturday while traveling by car in the town of Biddu, according to the organization “Defense for Children – Palestine.” CNN has reached out to the Israel Defense Forces about the reported shooting. The US Office of Palestinian Affairs said in a post on X that it was “devastated by the killing.”

Last month, another American, 17-year-old Tawfic Abdel, was fatally shot in the head, according to Palestinian news agency WAFA. The IDF and Israeli police told CNN that they had opened an investigation into the incident.

A number of American citizens have also been detained by Israeli forces in recent weeks. Blinken would not give details on their cases, citing privacy laws.

“I can just say in general, without reference to specific cases, we insist that people be treated fairly, that they be treated with due process, and that they be treated humanely,” he said. “That’s something that, regardless of where an American citizen might be detained, we insist on. And we’ll continue to insist on.”

Two Americans, Hashem Alagha, 20, and Borak Alagha, 18, were detained by Israeli forces during a raid of a home in Gaza last week, according to a family member in the United States.

An American woman, Samaher Esmail, was taken from her home in the West Bank and detained more than a week ago by Israeli forces.

Her family alleges that she was beaten and denied medication in custody. A spokesperson for the Israel Prison Service told CNN that she is “being held in accordance with the law” and “given medical treatment for medical problems that arose even before her arrest.”

In a statement to CNN Tuesday, the IDF said Esmail was arrested during “a battalion operation that took place in the area of the village of Silwad to arrest terror suspects” on February 5.

“All those arrested in the operation were transferred to the security forces for further treatment,” the IDF said. The IDF did not address the family’s claims about Esmail’s mistreatment in custody and referred further questions to the Israel Prison Service, to whom CNN has reached out.

The IDF response also did not provide further details about the alleged “incitement on social media.”

According to the family, Esmail was detained because of “10-year-old Facebook posts and political cartoons she shared.”

Posts from Esmail’s Facebook seen by CNN show cartoons favorably depicting Hamas and two photos of her holding a gun. Family spokesperson Jonathan Franks said the gun is in Louisiana, where Esmail also resides and legally owns the firearm.

“Ms. Esmail’s opinions may be disfavored in Israel proper, but the inescapable reality is they were protected speech which no rational person could consider an incitement to violence,” the statement released by Franks on behalf of the family said.

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