US 'Troubled' by Video of Israel Forces Beating American Teen

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Common Dreams

US 'Troubled' by Video of Israel Forces Beating American Teen

Video footage appears to show American teen, whose Palestinian cousin was murdered last week, being severely beaten by Israeli police forces

Tariq Khdair appeared in court on Sunday with injuries allegedly sustained during Thursday's beating still clearly visible. (Photo: Reuters)

Israel has detained six individuals on Sunday who may have ties to the murder of a Palestinian teenager, Mohammad Abu Khdair, who was abducted near his home in East Jerusalem earlier this week and later found burned to death in a wooded area outside the city.

According to Al-Jazeera:

Police declined to officially comment or to identify the suspects. A gag order largely bars local media from reporting on the case, but Ha’aretz newspaper described their motive as “nationalistic,” implying that they are Jewish Israelis.

A police source told Al Jazeera that at least two of those arrested are well-known right-wing activists.

Also on Sunday, an Israeli court ordered a cousin of the recent murder victim, a 15-year-old American named Tariq Khdair, who was filmed being beaten while handcuffed by two Israeli Border Police officers to remain under house arrest while an "investigation" is conducted into the incident which occurred head of Mohammad's funeral on Thursday.

In comments to reporters after his release on Sunday, Tariq said that he was not participating in protests—only "watching" when he was grabbed by what he believes were Israeli police officers who grabbed him from the side. “And they hit me," Tariq said, "and they kept hitting me and then I fell asleep and then I woke up in the hospital.”

Watch:

The treatment of Tariq prompted a response by the U.S. government which released a statement cautiously objecting to possible 'excessive force' by Israeli police.

Photographs posted online Saturday showed Tariq's badly swollen face:

As Euronews reports:

Israel's Border Police units and the IDF have a long and well-documented history of excessive force and brutality against Palestinians from which children receive little immunity.

As Palestinian journalist and activist Ali Abunimah noted on his widely-read Electronic Intifada website, "Tariq’s experience is far from rare. As of the end of April 2014, a total of 196 Palestinian children were in Israeli prisons, according to Defence for Children International Palestine Section."

The case, continued Abunimah, has "garnered massive international media attention both because the brutal beating was caught on video and because he is a US citizen," but typically "Israeli forces who attack Palestinians are almost never held accountable due to a pervasive culture of impunity."

In response to Tariq's arrest and the evidence of his treatment, the U.S. State Department said in a statement it was "profoundly troubled by reports that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly condemn any excessive use of force. We are calling for a speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force."

The related stories of the Khdair family now frame heightened tensions in the occupied territories and the Gaza Strip as Palestinians react angerly to what has largely been seen as the Israeli government's policy of "collective punishment" that followed the recent murder of three Israeli teenagers.

On Saturday, the results of an autopsy performed on Mohammad Abu Khdair's body showed that the Palestinian teenager was likely burned alive by those who abducted him on Wednesday.

As the Washington Post reports, the news of the autopsy results arrived amid continued protests that centered in the Khdair family's East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat:

After days of clashes between young Palestinians and Israeli security forces, Shuafat has taken on the look of a war zone, with rocks and empty pipe bombs littering the street. Sections of the light-rail track — which normally ferries workers from their homes in Shuafat to their jobs in West Jerusalem — were smoldering Saturday after being set on fire Friday night.

Israeli police reported that 20 people had been arrested during clashes Friday in Shuafat. Palestinians asserted that several of those detained were badly beaten by police. One local hospital reported treating more than 100 people, mostly for minor injuries. Thirteen Israeli policemen were lightly wounded.

Fresh clashes erupted late Saturday after residents were set on edge by reports that 16-year-old Khieder had been burned alive.

Street protests and clashes continued throughout the weekend in the West Bank while Israeli military forces have amassed on the Gaza border amid new airstrikes.

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