U.S. Supports ‘Immediate and Thorough’ Probe Into 7-year-old Palestinian’s Death

The boy's uncle says that he died of a heart attack when Israeli soldiers came to his West Bank home over alleged stone-throwing by his brother

The U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson said Thursday it demanded "an immediate and thorough investigation" into the killing of a seven-year-old Palestinian who died during Israeli army activity in a West Bank town, according to Palestinians.

“We are heartbroken by the death of an innocent child," Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said.

The boy, Rian Suleiman, was frightened and "suffered a heart attack" when soldiers came to arrest his brothers in his family's home in the Palestinian town of Teqoa, near Bethlehem, according to the deceased boy's uncle.

A defense official told Haaretz that the soldiers arrived at the home to question the boy's parents about a stone-throwing incident that happened earlier. The Palestinian Health Ministry had initially published a contradictory claim, saying the boy fell to his death while being chased by the Israeli army.

The Palestinians added that Rian was taken to hospital in critical condition and pronounced dead soon after. The Israeli army is investigating the case. In a statement released later on Thursday, the army said "the claims about the minor's death are known. An initial investigation found no connection between his death and the activity of soldiers in the area."

Mohammed Suleiman, the boy's uncle, said Rian was at home with his parents and two brothers when soldiers loudly knocked on the door. He added that the army wanted to arrest the two brothers, ages 8 and 10, for allegedly throwing rocks at soldiers. "Rian's father opened the door and the soldiers entered. Then, there was a commotion and a lot of screaming. Out of fear, [Rian] collapsed and had a heart attack," Suleiman said, adding that the child did not have any prior medical conditions. "He was a completely healthy boy filled with happiness, and within minutes we lost him," he said.