Just after midnight on Friday Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib linked the death of a 7-year-old Palestinian boy reportedly chased by Israeli forces to the billions of dollars in annual military aid the United States provides Israel.
The Michigan Democrat—and first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress—shared an image of the boy, Rayyan Yaser Suleiman, tweeted by the nonprofit Institute for Middle East Understanding.
“Don’t look away,” said Tlaib. “$3.8 billion+ of our money is funding this. Enough. It must stop.”
The U.S. and Israeli governments struck their third 10-year agreement on military aid in 2016. Between fiscal years 2019 and 2028, the United States agreed to provide a total of $38 billion, subject to congressional appropriation.
Tlaib is among the relatively few progressives in Congress who openly criticize U.S. military aid to what she—and major human rights groups—call “Israel’s apartheid government.”
Other critics of Israel’s abuse of Palestinians have also pointed to the dead child—whose Friday funeral drew hundreds of people to Bethlehem—as yet another example.
In a video circulated on social media, Suleiman’s father said the 7-year-old “died on the spot from fear” while being chased by Israeli soldiers in the illegally occupied West Bank, Reuters reported Thursday.
“A medical official who inspected the body told Reuters that it bore no sign of physical trauma and that the death appeared consistent with heart failure,” the news agency noted. “The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned the incident as ‘an ugly crime’ by Israel.”
According to Reuters:
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 Defense Forces (IDF) in the area and the tragic death of the child,” the spokesman said.
Palestinian residents said there was no stone-throwing at the time. The military spokesman added that “the details of the incident are under review.”
Asked about Suleiman during a Thursday press briefing, U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said that “the U.S. is heartbroken to learn of the death of an innocent Palestinian child.”
As U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken “have repeated numerous times, Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom and prosperity,” Patel continued. “We support a thorough and immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the child’s death, and I believe the IDF itself has also indicated it will be looking into what has—what transpired as well.”
The European Union Delegation to the Palestinians similarly called for a probe in a pair of tweets:
The boy’s death came just a day after four Palestinians were killed and another 44 were wounded during an Israeli military raid at the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.