Thousands attend funeral of 7-year-old boy who died, Palestinians say, in pursuit of Israeli forces


Jerusalem
CNN

Thousands of Palestinians went out on Friday to mourn a seven-year-old Palestinian boy who died, his father said, while being chased by Israeli forces on Thursday — an account that was rejected by the Israeli military but prompted the US State Department to call for an investigation.

His father, Yasser Suleiman, told reporters that Rayan Suleiman was running away from soldiers in the village of Tekoa in the occupied West Bank after Israeli soldiers tried to storm his uncle’s house.

He was with my nephews and neighbors’ children. They were all running away from the soldiers. [The soldiers] I came to my brother’s house. I prevented them from entering the house. I told them there was no one at home. They went back to look at the cameras and came back to my house,” Suleiman said. “Ryan was terrified and ran out of the door behind the house.”

The father said, “A soldier ran after him until he died of fear.” “I took him in the car to the hospital, but they stopped me again to check the car even though they saw him dead, he put the gun to my head and said he needed to check the other house.”

The Palestinian Health Ministry said the boy died of “a heart disease, after falling from a height.”

The Israeli military questioned Suleiman’s account, saying that the soldiers did not run after the children and that no soldier prevented the father from taking his son to the hospital. Israeli army spokesman Richard Hecht said soldiers entered Tuqu’ after people were seen “throwing stones at vehicles on the road.”

The soldiers did not run after the children. The company commander recognized two children on the balcony who were involved in throwing stones, and they went up to the house, using no violence, and 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 inside the brigade.”

The US State Department said it was “sad” about Suleiman’s death.

“The United States is saddened to learn of the death of an innocent Palestinian child,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vidant Patel said Thursday. “As chief [Joe] Biden and the secretary [Antony] Blinken repeated 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 think the IDF itself has also indicated that it will look into what happened as well,” Patel said.

Thousands of mourners took to the streets of Tekoa on Friday to mourn Suleiman’s death, chanting, “We all die and Palestine lives.” Solomon’s body was wrapped in the Palestinian flag.

In August, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, expressed “alarm” at the large number of Palestinians, including children, who have been killed and injured in the occupied West Bank this year. The August statement said 20 Palestinian children in the occupied territories were killed in 2022, including “several incidents” where Israeli forces used lethal force.

There are no allegations of lethal force being used against Solomon.

Solomon's funeral.

“Bachelet said the widespread use of live ammunition by Israeli forces in law enforcement operations throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 2022 led to an alarming increase in the Palestinian death toll,” the August statement read.

This year, the United Nations Human Rights Office in the occupied Palestinian territories documented the killing of 74 Palestinians, including 20 children. The statement added that in several incidents, Israeli forces used lethal force in a manner that appears to violate international human rights law.

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