Israel Opens Probe Against Cop Filmed Beating Palestinian-American Teen

15-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir, who was beaten unconscious in Shoafat, is being held under house arrest in Israel.

AFP

The Justice Ministry’s police internal investigations department is considering filing criminal charges against one of the police officers who is suspected of severely beating a Palestinian-American teen last week. The officer has been suspended for 15 days.

The 15-year-old, Tariq Abu Khdeir, was detained by a team of Border Police officers during last Thursday’s rioting in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shoafat, which began as a protest against the murder of his cousin, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the day before.

A videotape of the incident shows the officers beating the boy vigorously and kicking him until he lost consciousness. The police said afterward they were arresting rioters in a violent protest and that they had been in danger.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the police internal investigations department said it opened an inquiry as soon as the clip was aired and that the teenager had been arrested during a severe disturbance in Shoafat, in which masked youngsters rioted and threw fire bombs and rocks at the officers.

“The youngster in the film was a minor who was arrested after the officers apparently identified him as having taken part in the riot, with his face masked and a slingshot in his hand,” it said. At the end of the inquiry, investigators found “evidence allegedly confirming that the suspected officer had committed serious violent offenses after the minor’s arrest and while he was bound. In view of this the department director is weighing serving a criminal indictment against the suspected officer and has instructed that he be summoned for a hearing,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Tariq Abu Khdeir, who attends high school in Florida, is being held under house arrest in Israel. His friends and family have started a social media campaign, with the hashtag “Bring Tariq Home,” aimed at returning the teenager to his home in the United States within the next two weeks,” ABC Action News reported this week.

Meanwhile, three of the six Jews suspected of being involved in the kidnapping and murder of the American teenager’s cousin, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir of Shoafat, will be released from custody today, the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court ruled yesterday.

The three are not suspected of the murder itself but of being part of the cell that committed it. The police and Shin Bet security service believes the murder was committed by the three main suspects – a 30-year-old man from a community near Jerusalem and two minors from the capital.

Sources close to the investigation said the three main suspects confessed to the murder and reconstructed it.

The three, who were arrested on the night between Saturday and Sunday, are likely to see their lawyers today, after a court banned them from doing so at the Shin Bet’s request.

The suspects’ attorney Bentzi Kabler said, “we’re pleased that what we said about the suspects has been proved true — three civilians were brutally arrested without having anything to do with the act. As for the other three suspects, we’ll comment after meeting them.”