Israeli Army Probe Rebuts Claim That Soldiers Caused 7-year-old Palestinian's Death

The probe confirmed that soldiers had questioned Suleiman’s father and two of his siblings, but that it was 'impossible to determine whether Rian Suleiman was among them'

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
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The Suleiman family's home, this week.
The Suleiman family's home, this week.Credit: Emil Salman
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

The military denied accusations on Thursday that soldiers caused the death of a 7-year-old Palestinian last week, saying an internal probe had ruled out such a possibility.

The child, Rian Suleiman, died during a raid in the West Bank town of Teqoa, near Bethlehem. His uncle said the boy got scared and suffered a heart attack when soldiers came to arrest his brothers. The soldiers said they had been searching for children who had been throwing stones.

The probe confirmed that soldiers had questioned Suleiman’s father and two of his siblings, but that it was “impossible to determine whether Rian Suleiman was among them,” and added that the boy’s father and the soldiers’ commander held “a short conversation, which was conducted respectfully, without any contact and certainly without the use of verbal or physical violence.”

Suleiman’s family said his father had found him lying on his stomach, his arms splayed, in the backyard. The Palestinian Health Ministry said his
cause of death was a heart attack.

Although no allegations of physical aggression had been made, the military statement issued Thursday emphasized that the soldiers had not used force at any point.

The U.S. State Department called for “an immediate and thorough investigation” shortly after Suleiman’s death.

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