The story of the martyrdom of the child Rayan: childhood “in a terrifying reality” .. and the young witness: “They ran after me”

In front of Ryan Suleiman’s house stood a little boy with a picture of Ryan. “They were looking for the little kids, they were roaming the street and they were looking for the little kids,” he said angrily. In the home of the family, which is in mourning, a 10-year-old girl, a relative of the family, said that she saw the soldiers in the street from the beginning. “The soldiers ran after me,” she said trembling. She circled among the women of the family in one of the rooms of the house and wrapped herself in a Palestinian flag. Her mother, who was sitting there, said that the girls were in the house of the Suleiman family, and that the soldiers entered the house and showed her a text in Arabic that said there were children throwing stones, and that they sought. they. I tried to oppose their entry, and was told that only women were in the house. They went in and searched for ten minutes. They were carrying guns, and the girl started crying out of fear,” she said.

Ryan Suleiman, who will celebrate his eighth birthday this month, was killed last week as soldiers stormed the town of Tekoa looking for children who they said were throwing stones. His father found him in the backyard of the house, lying on his stomach with his hands outstretched. No one was watching the moment he collapsed. According to his family, he was a healthy child whose heart stopped in fear when the soldiers arrived at the house. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the cause of death was cardiac arrest. According to dr. Mohamed Ismail, an expert in paediatrics, said the child was in good health and had no health problems. The report of the analysis of the body has not yet reached the family, but although the circumstances are not entirely clear, his death brings out one clear fact, namely that Palestinian children live in a situation of panic, in which the army storming their homes and their presence in their streets and near their schools is a regular order.

Yasser Suleiman, Rayan’s father, said that on Thursday his son returned from the village school, where he studies in the second grade, after a celebration for the class’s children took place. “He was satisfied,” says the father. Minutes later, at eleven o’clock in the afternoon, Yasser heard his son scream as he stood at the window of the house’s second-floor salon, looking out over the street. “He shouted that the army was after children,” he said. Yasser added that he came to the window where his son was standing, and saw three soldiers knocking on the neighbors’ houses, where many of them are not members of his family, and they entered some of these houses entered He heard a soldier shouting at his sister, who lived next door.

When the soldiers knocked on his door, Yasser came down to them. “The soldiers said that they wanted to get my children out of the house, and that they were the ones who threw stones,” he said. According to what the father said, he told the soldier that his children don’t do that, and the soldier called him a liar. He called his sons Khaled and Ali, 12 and 11, and they went downstairs. According to him, the soldiers questioned the boys for ten minutes outside the yard of the house and accused them of throwing stones. When the boys said they did not throw stones, the soldiers insisted that they did.

After the soldiers left, the father left his house and went to his sister’s house to find out what happened there. While he was there, a neighbor called him and told him that his son was lying on the ground near the back gate of the house. He got there quickly. “I saw Ryan lying on his face. I carried it in my hands and did not feel his pulse. I screamed to get a car. We sprayed water on his face, but he didn’t move.” They took him to the local clinic, and from there to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. “On the way we saw the soldiers. We stopped, I told them it was about them. One of the soldiers shouted at me and showed me with his hands that it was not about him,” said the father.

According to Yasser, no one saw the moment his son collapsed. No one knows if there were any soldiers on the scene when it happened. He also said he wasn’t sure at what point Ryan entered the arena. What he clearly knows is that his son is afraid of the army. “Because of fear, he became a martyr,” he said. “A few weeks ago, Ryan woke up in the night when the army entered the neighborhood. He came and woke me up, and he said, “Dad, the army is here,” he recalled. The funeral was attended by the boys from Ryan’s class and teachers. “He really loved school, books, sports and writing. I can’t believe he’s still gone. I think I’ll go downstairs and get him there at home.” Rayan’s bedroom is ordinary, with open walls, and three beds for Rayan, Khaled and Ali. The father said that his brothers also do not understand and do not yet realize that their brother will not return.”

Ryan’s photo is hung on the fence of the house. In the backyard where his father found him, his mother sat crying, surrounded by women. One of the women, Nadia, a technology teacher at the school where Ryan and his siblings attended, said that “the presence of soldiers determines the way the school children live. There is a daily feeling that something is going on. Boys’ fear is a daily thing,” she said. The school is on the main street. According to her, the presence of soldiers and military vehicles near the school is normal. “The army is there day and night.” According to her, “Teachers take turns waiting to make sure that the last of the children leave the house. Some of them even accompany the students on a part of the road for fear of the army. Sometimes, while they are learning, soldiers pass by the windows of the school and give signals to the students. Even when they are inside the school, they don’t feel safe,” she added. Call herself a mother of a child studying in school. According to her, Ryan’s death affected him. “He doesn’t want to go back to school, and since then he hasn’t eaten anything. And he says to me: Mom, if I go to school, I’ll die.” Today is the first day that the school’s students, including Ryan’s brothers, will return to school after his death. “It’s going to be a difficult day, many students said they didn’t want to come,” said Nidaa.

An IDF spokesman said that “last Thursday, a number of suspects threw stones at civilians in a major axis of movement near the village of Tekoa in the area of ​​the Qatari “Ezion” brigade. Army soldiers searched for the suspects who fled the village. During the inspection, there were no confrontations, and no weapons or means of dispersing the protests were used. The preliminary investigation revealed that no connection was found between the death of the minor and the activities of the army in the area. The circumstances of the death of the minor are being investigated.”

by: Hagar Shezaf

Ha’aretz 2/10/ 2022

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