Israeli police officer to be charged in beating of Palestinian teen
An Israeli police officer caught on video brutally beating a Palestinian American teenager in Jerusalem will face both administrative and criminal charges, justice officials said Wednesday.
Tariq Abukhdeir of Tampa, Fla., arrived with his family this month after the gruesome death of his cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was abducted, beaten and burned in apparent revenge for the slaying of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.
Mohammed’s death ignited fierce protests in his neighborhood of Shuafat, where crowds enraged over the killing clashed with police, throwing firebombs and rocks in some of the worst violence Jerusalem has seen in years.
Police officers on the scene arrested several teenagers suspected of involvement in the riots, including the 15-year-old Florida high school student. After being handcuffed, Tariq was beaten severely. He later told Israeli media he was only watching when police jumped him.
A video that purportedly captured the incident showed two men repeatedly kicking the teen as he lay on the ground before carrying his limp body away. It was widely circulated and prompted a sharp condemnation from the U.S. State Department and an inquiry by the police investigations department, which is part of Israel’s Justice Ministry.
A statement from the Justice Ministry on Wednesday said the investigation found evidence against the officer “suspected of severe violent crimes, committed after the arrest of the minor, and while the minor was handcuffed.”
After receiving medical treatment, Tariq spent the weekend in jail and was released Sunday to house arrest, after his parents posted bond.
The officer has been suspended from police duties for 15 days pending a hearing, as the director of the department has decided to consider criminal charges, the statement said. In addition, the police officer, who was not identified, will face administrative charges.
Six Jewish suspects were arrested Sunday in connection with Mohammed’s slaying, which investigators said was motivated by “nationalistic reasons” and carried out to avenge the killing of three Israeli teenagers abducted in the West Bank in mid-June.
Three of the suspects are expected to be released from police custody Thursday, Israeli media reported. The remaining three will remain in jail.
Sobelman is a special correspondent.
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