Palestinians mourn boy who died ‘because of terror’ by Israeli forces


TEQUA, WEST BANK (AP) — Hundreds of men carrying the body of a 7-year-old Palestinian boy marched to his final resting place on Friday. marched. Out of fear of the Israeli soldiers.

Rayan Suleiman, with twinkling eyes and a backpack decorated with cartoon racing cars, said his family said he and his brother were chased by Israeli soldiers while walking home from school on Thursday. After the boys returned home, the military banged on the door furiously and threatened to arrest the children, their parents say.

Filmed in the occupied West Bank, the story offers an emotional focus on anger at Israeli military tactics and what Palestinians claim is their toll on Israeli occupation. The Israeli military called the death a tragedy and said the soldiers were not to blame.

heavily armed Israeli soldiers regularly arrest Palestinian children in the West Bankwith about 500,000 Israeli settlers living on land that the Palestinians want for a future independent state.

Rayan’s death has also made his Palestinian parents nervous. Fear for the safety of children and fear of soldiers knocking on doors are part of everyday life under Israeli military rule, now in its 56th year.

“He was just an innocent boy. He was only seven years old. What can he do?” said while holding back.

The State Department has requested an investigation. The European Union said it was “shocked” by Layan’s “tragic death”. The United Nations Special Envoy for the Middle East, Thor Wensland, said he was “sad” and called for an immediate investigation.

A photo of Layang’s tiny, lifeless body under a hospital sheet had become a powerful new symbol overnight, threatening to add to tensions already building the day after the incident. worst Israeli raids from the military tightened control over the West Bank Earlier this year.

And like many such incidents in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his death has sparked controversy. He denied, saying one officer had only come to the family’s home after he found children throwing stones.

Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht said the officer spoke with Layan’s father “in a very calm manner” and walked away.

“There was no violence, no home invasion,” Hecht said.

Rayan’s father said his son collapsed when he saw Israeli soldiers chasing him at the front door. Yasser Suleiman said he was trying to make excuses for soldiers who accused his children of throwing stones. Soldiers returned at night and threatened to arrest all three of his children, including his 8-year-old and his 10-year-old Rayan’s older brother, Suleiman said. Layan tries to escape and falls unconscious to the floor.

“He died of fright on the spot,” Suleiman said.

Doctors at a hospital in Beit Jala, a Palestinian town south of Jerusalem, were unable to revive him. Dr. Mohamed Ismail, a pediatrician, said Rayan was in good health and had no medical conditions so far.

“The most likely scenario of what happened is that under stress there was an excess of adrenaline, which caused an increase in heart rate,” said Ismail. “He had a cardiac arrest.”

Forensic scientists are currently conducting an autopsy on Layan. A death certificate will not be issued until a doctor makes a decision.

Meanwhile, on Friday, mourners flooded outside his stone house in the Palestinian town of Tekua, which borders an Israeli settlement of about 4,000 inhabitants. I kissed his head and feet.

“God is great!” they shouted, some jogging to stay in front of his tiny body on a wooden pallet. “Oh Rayan, the light in your eyes!”

On Friday afternoon, at Suleiman’s house, women were crying on Rayan’s bed, displayed in the courtyard of the house alongside English textbooks. His mother crumpled up and called her son and cried. A large family in mourning with teary eyes.

Layan’s aunt, who was home at the time of the incident, said even she was horrified when the Israeli soldiers broke into her house. Where are you?” he cried. “

“Kids are always in danger on the way home from school by military settlers,” says Rayan’s aunt, who goes by the name Umm Ali. I pointed out that they may patrol. “Rayan isn’t the first, it’s just the latest.”

His brother refuses to go to school again out of fear, she added.

Palestinians see Layan’s death as the latest Israeli provocation amid deadly violence rising in the West Palestinian attacks in Israel surged last spring, killing 19 Israelis, Israeli forces carry out raids on cities and towns almost every night to arrest suspects. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed, making 2022 the deadliest year in his seven years.

Human rights groups say Palestinian children are under constant threat of violence across the West Bank. Under Israeli military law, her Palestinian children over the age of 12 can serve her six months in prison. Every year, Israel arrests hundreds of teenagers in night raids, handcuffs them, blindfolds them and stuffs them into armored vehicles for questioning, reports Israeli human rights group Hamoked.

“For the arrested teens and their mothers and fathers, this is a huge trauma,” said Jessica Montel, executive director of Hamokedo. “In this case, it was mortal trauma for this little boy.”

After Layan’s funeral, a small group of young men cursed and threw stones at Israeli armored vehicles rumbling through the streets of Tekua.