FRESH AIR

IDF: No Israeli involvement in Palestinian boy’s death

Oct 12, 2022 | Ahron Shapiro

1600px Police Israel 9216

On October 7, the IDF announced the outcome of its investigation into the tragic death of a seven-year-old Palestinian boy Rayan Yasser Sliman in a village near Bethlehem at the end of September. Palestinians had initially claimed the boy had died of a fall when fleeing from Israeli soldiers, although details of their story actually changed several times, with a subsequent account claiming he died from a heart attack brought on by fear at the aggressive behaviour of Israeli soldiers, who had been chasing him, when they came to his house.

Reporting on the IDF’s response, Jerusalem Post military reporter Anna Ahronheim wrote:

According to the investigation by the IDF, the force entered the village and went to several buildings in order to identify the suspects. In one of the homes, the officer “recognized” the father of the family from the window of his house and called on him to come out along with his children in order to be questioned.

The military said that the father came along with two of his children and had a “short conversation, conducted in a respectful manner, without any contact and certainly without the use of verbal or physical violence” with the company commander.

The statement said that it was not possible to determine if Sliman was with the father during the conversation or the two older brothers, who may have been the ones who threw the stones.

While neither the IDF’s nor Sliman’s family’s account of the incident can be corroborated by independent witnesses, if the IDF’s story is accurate, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time Palestinians have exaggerated or invented the culpability of Israelis for the natural or accidental deaths of Palestinians of all ages.

In 2020, Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi retweeted an accusation that an Israeli settler had murdered an eight-year-old Palestinian child who had drowned in a watery pit. In reality, not only was the drowning not caused by settlers, but Israeli paramedics had tried to save the child’s life. US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib initially retweeted, then quietly deleted the Tweet when the truth was revealed.

In 2011, Hamas blamed Israel for lethal “psychological trauma” in the case of a an 11-year-old girl, Abeer al-Iskafi, who had merely visited her father in prison.

Three years later, the Palestinian Authority blamed Israel for causing the death of PA Minister Ziad Abu Ein. He died of heart attack while attending a demonstration, but had a history of heart disease and had merely argued with Israelis at the scene, none of whom did anything aggressive or improper to cause Abu Ein’s attack.

Then in 2018, Hamas spread the false claim an infant who died as a result of a heart defect was killed during the “return marches”, to defame the IDF and Israel.

Perhaps the most notorious case, however, was that of Mohammed al-Dura in the Gaza Strip back in September 2000, who died in the crossfire between the IDF and Palestinian gunmen. An investigation later showed that only the Palestinian gunmen could have been responsible, given his position.

A curious aspect of the Sliman incident, given the history of exaggerated Palestinian claims of this sort, is the fact that the US Biden Administration jumped into the fray, demanding a thorough investigation into a matter that didn’t involve an American citizen and was so hotly contested. It remains to be seen if this is a residual affect of the Shareen Abu Akleh controversy, or whether it represents a shift by the State Department towards the Palestinians.

Illustrative photo: Wikipedia

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