The United States called for an investigation into the death of a seven-year-old Palestinian boy who died of heart failure after running away from IDF soldiers near the West Bank village of Tekoa.
“We support a thorough and immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the child’s death” alongside an Israeli military probe, Deputy State Department Spokesman Vedant Patel said.
“The US is heartbroken to learn of the death of an innocent Palestinian child,” Patel said.
Patel also repeated a plea for calm in the West Bank made by Washington on Wednesday.
The IDF disclaimed any connection to the death of the boy, Rayan Yasser Suleiman, based on an initial investigation but said it was conducting a further probe.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry immediately blamed Israel, but shifted its narrative during the course of the day, explaining first that the boy died from a fall after running from an IDF soldier. It later explained that the boy fell and his heart stopped as a result, but later credited his death to heart failure after an IDF chase.
Palestinian reports claimed that Rayan fled from army soldiers who were chasing students in the Khirbet al-Deir area near Tekoa.
The boy's family's response
Rayan’s father, Yasser, explained, “The soldiers were chasing the children who were on their way home from school. When my son saw the soldiers, he went down to the other house. The soldiers were chasing him. He was so scared that he fell. I carried him in the car together with a young man.”
“The soldiers were chasing the children who were on their way home from school. When my son saw the soldiers, he went down to the other house. The soldiers were chasing him. He was so scared that he fell."Yasser Suleiman
The boy’s uncle said his nephew suffered a heart attack when soldiers came to arrest his brothers. There were Palestinian reports that the IDF had raided the home of Suleiman’s family home shortly after the incident.
Rayan was brought to the hospital where his heart stopped and doctors were forced to declare his death after resuscitation attempts failed.
The reports additionally claimed that Israeli forces raided the home of Suleiman’s family shortly after the incident.
The IDF stated on Thursday afternoon that a number of suspects who were throwing stones at a central thoroughfare near Tekoa ran into the village. IDF soldiers entered the village to search for the suspects, with the IDF stressing that no clashes took place during the searches and no weapons or riot-dispersal methods were used.
According to a security source, after soldiers entered the village, they went to the home of the child and cordially asked his father to tell his son to stop throwing stones. The soldiers did not see anything wrong but suddenly heard a commotion inside the house, which may have been when the child fell within or near the house. The soldiers did not have any contact with the child once they entered the village and said they were unaware of where or how the child fell.
Jerusalem Post Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.