US calls for probe into seven-year-old Palestinian boy's death
The United States called for a "thorough and immediate" investigation into the death of a seven-year-old Palestinian boy on Thursday, after his father said he had died of heart failure while being chased by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank.
Rayyan Yaser Suleiman was coming home from school with other pupils in the village of Tuqu when troops gave chase, and he "died on the spot from fear," his father Yasser said, in an account disputed by the Israeli army.
Mohammed, the boy's uncle, said: "He was a completely healthy boy filled with happiness, and within minutes we lost him."
Earlier, Palestinian health officials said Rayyan had died on Thursday after falling from a significant height while running away from Israeli soldiers.
However, a medical official who inspected the boy's body told Reuters that it bore no sign of physical trauma and that the death appeared consistent with heart failure.
Asked in a press briefing about Rayyan's death, deputy US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said: "The US is heartbroken to learn of the death of an innocent Palestinian child.
"We support a thorough and immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the child's death" alongside an Israeli military probe, he added.
Patel also repeated a plea for calm in the West Bank made by Washington on Wednesday, before the raid that reportedly led to the boy's death.
Israeli forces have carried out dozens of violent raids in the occupied West Bank in recent months, killing more than 80 Palestinians so far this year, and injuring hundreds.
An Israeli military spokesman said troops were in the vicinity at the time to search for Palestinians suspected of fleeing into the village after having thrown rocks at motorists.
"An initial inquiry shows no connection between the searches conducted by the Israel Defence Forces (Israeli army) in the area and the tragic death of the child," the spokesman said.
Residents said there was no stone-throwing at the time and the Palestinian foreign ministry condemned the incident as "an ugly crime" by Israel.
The Israeli military spokesman added that "the details of the incident are under review".