Initial reports claimed that an Arab boy fell from a balcony and was pronounced dead at Beit Jala Hospital after being chased by IDF soldiers. But there is no connection between a nearby IDF chase after stone-throwers and the boy’s fall, a security source initially told TPS. Later reports do not indicate the boy fell from a balcony at all.
The Palestinian Authority’s official WAFA news agency quoted the hospital which claimed that the child died after falling from a high place while running away from Israeli soldiers who were chasing him in the village of Toqou (Tekoa), in the Bethlehem area. But according to AP News, relatives of the boy said he died of fright after IDF soldiers went to his parents home and told his father to stop permitting his children to throw stones at passing vehicles on the road. The boy’s older brothers had also been throwing stones. (See video at the end of this article)
AP reports: Mohammed Suleiman, a 22-year-old cousin, said Rayan was shrieking in fear at sight of the soldiers and his parents shouted, “come here,” to calm him down. He said after the soldiers left, the boy collapsed. He said Rayan had been healthy.
According to AP, the IDF said the soldiers did not enter the home, and calmly spoke with the father.
The hospital claimed that the child, Rayyan Yaser Suleiman, was brought to the hospital after his heart had stopped and efforts to revive him had failed.
Suleiman “ran away in fear from soldiers who chased him and other students after leaving their school causing him to fall from a high place,” the hospital alleged.
But statements from the boy’s relatives contradict the PA hospital’s statement, and the boy only became ill and collapsed after the soldiers had already talked to the father and left the house.
An IDF official also said that the boy’s death had nothing to do with the IDF’s activities in the area. The boy apparently died from heart failure, which the hospital also admitted.
Arab sources are claiming that the boy was launching high velocity rocks with a slingshot before the event, and even posted a video of the boy doing so, allegedly from right before he died.
אזור יישוב תקוע, אמש.
הילד מצא את מותו לאחר מכן. pic.twitter.com/CX4aoR0bsd
— בנציון טאובר (@Benzion40) September 29, 2022
The US has called on Israel to launch an investigation into the death.
The US has not called on the Palestinian Authority to investigate why they are putting children on the front lines and encouraging 7-year-olds to launch high-velocity rocks at passing Israeli vehicles.