No connection between IDF activities and death of 7-year-old Arab boy, probe concludes

The Palestinian health ministry immediately blamed Israel but kept changing its story as to what had occurred.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

There is no connection between the IDF’s operations and the death of Rayyan Yaser Suleiman late last month, an IDF inquiry has found.

Suleiman died on September 29. The Palestinian health ministry immediately blamed Israel while changing its narrative several times.

At first, the ministry – quoted by the PA’s official WAFA news agency – claimed the child fell from a high spot while running away from Israeli soldiers who were chasing him in the village of Toqou, in the Bethlehem area. Later, the officials said he suffered a heart attack while being threatened.

However, an IDF investigation into the incident concluded that any connection between the death of Suleiman and the activity of the force operating in the area at the time has been ruled out.

The investigation shows that during a routine activity of the IDF force to protect a route, a number of Arabs threw rocks at Israeli vehicles. An IDF force entered the village of Khirbat a-Dir, where the suspects had fled.

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During the searches, the company commander moved between several buildings to identify the suspects.

In one of the houses, the commander recognized Suleiman Sr., the father of the family, from the window of his house, and called him to come out to the entrance of the house together with his children, in order to question him.

The father arrived with two of his children, possibly including Ryyan, and had a short conversation with the officer at the doorstep of the house, “conducted in a respectful manner, without any contact and certainly without the use of verbal or physical violence.”

During the departure of the troops from the village, a vehicle passed by them with Ryyan Sr. in it with a child on his lap, and the vehicle continued its journey without delay. After some time, the commander of the force noticed an ambulance had entered the village but did not interfere.

“The investigation shows that during the entire time that the IDF was in the village, no force or means of combat of any kind was used,” the IDF underscored.

“The investigation also shows that no evidence was found of Ryyan’s fall or of physical damage caused as a result of the actions of the forces,” the report, published on Thursday, stated.

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According to the conclusions of the investigation, any connection between the unfortunate death of the boy  and the IDF counterterrorism operation “was is ruled out.”

“The fighters acted as expected while adhering to IDF values and maintaining responsibility and purity of weapons,” the IDF concluded.

The Bethlehem hospital to which Ryyan was admitted inadvertently agreed that he was not killed by the IDF. Rather, it stated that Ryyan was “brought to the hospital after his heart had stopped and efforts to revive him had failed.”

World Israel News contributed to this report.