Beaten Palestinian youth is U.S. citizen, cousin of murdered kidnap victim
Video shows the boy being beaten by three policemen; U.S. State Department calls for a 'credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force.'
The Palestinian youth who was caught on video earlier this week being beaten by members of the Israeli Border Police is a United States citizen from Florida, the U.S. State Department confirmed on Saturday.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki named the youth as Tariq Khdeir, 15. He was a cousin of Muhammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian whose burned body was found Wednesday in the Jerusalem Forest. Khdeir was visited by a U.S. consulate official, the statement said.
"We are profoundly troubled by reports that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly condemn any excessive use of force," Psaki said. "We are calling for a speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force."
"We reiterate our grave concern about the increasing violent incidents, and call on all sides to take steps to restore calm and prevent harm to innocents," it added.
Khdeir, according reports in Orlando, Florida, is a high school sophomore in Tampa, who was visiting his Palestinian relatives in Shuafat, Jerusalem, for the first time in over a decade when he was beaten and detained.
The incident took place on Thursday outside the home of the murdered teenager, said to be his cousin. The Forward quoted the Council on American-Islamic Relations as saying that he suffered serious injuries in the beating and is being held under police guard at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.
Khdeir is due to be brought before a judge in Jerusalem on Sunday, Ma'an news agency reported.
Two videos of the incident were posted online. One was shot by a neighbor and distributed to family and a television station, while the other was shot from the other side of the street and posted to YouTube.
Both show three Border Police officers hitting a Palestinian detainee who is cuffed and lying on the floor. One of the officers appears to be sitting on the youth while his colleague is kicking and punching him. One of the videos shows the officers dragging what appears to be an unconscious detainee away.
After seeing the video, Khdeir's parents told CNN that the victim was their teenage son. Relatives released pictures of the teenager with bruises and swollen lips and nose.
The Police Investigation's Unit said it has launched an investigation into the matter, after viewing the video allegedly showing the teen's beating.
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