Thousands of Palestinians turned out to mourn the death of a seven-year-old Palestinian child, whose father said on Thursday that he was being chased by Israeli troops. research
Rayyan Suleiman was running from soldiers in the occupied West Bank town of Tekoa after Israeli soldiers tried to enter his uncle’s house, his father Yasser Suleiman told reporters.
“He was with my nieces and nephews and the neighbours’ children. They were all running away from the soldiers. [The soldiers] he came to my brother’s house. I prevented him from entering the house. I told them that there is no one at home. They came back to look at the cameras and then they came back to my house,” said Suleiman. “Rayyan was terrified and ran out the back door of the house.”
“A soldier ran after him until he died of fear,” said his father. “I took him to the hospital in the car, but they stopped me again to check the car, even though they found him dead, he put the gun to my head and said he had to check the other house.”
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said the boy “suffered from a heart condition after falling from a height”.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) disputed Suleiman’s account, saying that soldiers did not run after the children and that no soldiers stopped the father and son from taking him to the hospital. Israeli army spokesman Richard Hecht said soldiers entered Tekoa after seeing people “throwing stones at vehicles on the road”.
“The soldiers did not run after the children. The company commander identified two children who were throwing stones on a balcony, he went up to the house, he did not use violence, he spoke to the father at the door. After the company commander left, the tragic incident occurred,” Hecht said, adding that “a thorough investigation is underway in the brigade.”
The US State Department said it was “heartbroken” by Suleiman’s death.
“The United States is heartbroken to learn of the death of an innocent Palestinian child,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel said Thursday. “As president [Joe] Biden and the secretary [Antony] As Blinken has reiterated many times, Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve to live in safety and security and enjoy equal measures of freedom and prosperity.
“We support a thorough and immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the child’s death, and I believe the IDF itself has indicated that it will also look into what happened,” Patel said.
Thousands of people filled the streets of Tekoa on Friday to mourn the death of Suleiman, “we all die, and Palestine lives.” Suleiman’s body was wrapped in a Palestinian flag.
In August, UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet “expressed alarm” at the high number of Palestinians killed and injured in the occupied West Bank this year, including children. The August statement said 20 Palestinian children were killed in the occupied territory in 2022, including “many incidents” in which Israeli forces used lethal force.
There are no allegations of the use of lethal force against Suleiman.
“Bachelet said the use of Israeli forces in law enforcement operations throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 2022 has led to an alarming increase in Palestinian deaths,” the August statement said.
“In the occupied Palestinian territory, the UN Human Rights Office has documented the murder of 74 Palestinians this year, including 20 children. In many incidents Israeli forces used lethal force in a manner that appeared to violate international human rights law,” the statement added.