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Palestinians say 7-year-old boy died as he was chased by Israeli forces in West Bank

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Hundreds of Palestinians gathered in Bethlehem on Friday for the funeral of a 7-year-old boy who died after allegedly being chased by Israeli troops in the town of Taquo, south of Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank.

Rayyan Suleiman’s father said his son was walking home with school friends Thursday when Israeli forces chased them.

“His heart stopped beating because he was so scared,” Yasser Suleiman told Palestinian media, insisting that his son did not have any pre-existing medical conditions.

The Health Ministry of the Palestinian Authority, which is based in the West Bank, said in a statement that the minor died after “falling from a high position” during the chase. However, medical staff at the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital, where Suleiman was pronounced dead, told media outlets the boy’s heart stopped beating as he ran away from the troops.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement provided to CBS News that on Thursday, “a number of Palestinians hurled rocks toward civilians adjacent to the village” in question, after which soldiers “searched for the suspects, who had fled into the village. During the searches, there were no clashes and no means of riot dispersal or live ammunition were used.”

Israeli media cited the IDF as saying forces had questioned several Palestinian parents, including Suleiman’s father, over their children’s alleged involvement in the stone-throwing.

The IDF said an “initial inquiry shows no connection between the searches conducted by the IDF in the area and the tragic death of the child.” It added that the details of the incident remained “under review.”

The U.S. State Department on Thursday called for a “thorough and immediate” investigation into the boy’s death, with deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel saying: “We are heartbroken by the death of an innocent child.”

The European Union Delegation to Palestinian Territories said it was “shocked by the tragic death of 7 yrs old, Rayyan Suleiman,” and also called for a thorough investigation.

“Under international law, children enjoy special protection. The circumstances of this incident must be swiftly and fully investigated by Israeli authorities in order to bring the perpetrators to justice,” the delegation said on Twitter.

EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore called it “heartbreaking that a routine activity has become deadly for children,” and added that “the EU calls for an immediate halt to the violence.”

The incident comes amid heightened tension between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the West Bank as both Jews and Muslims mark holidays.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas denounced what it said were crimes perpetrated by Israeli forces against Palestinian children and called for Israeli leaders to be put on a “list of shame.”

“The escalation of the occupation’s terrorism against the children of Palestine is a crime that requires international action,” the group said in a statement.

Palestinian medical sources claim that 36 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli security forces this year.

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Article source: CBS News | Khaled Wassef | September 30, 2022

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000