Report: Palestinian-American Teen Brutalized by Israeli Police Received at White House

U.S. officials believe Israel takes a nonchalant attitude toward army killings and woundings of Palestinian-American minors, CNN reports.

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Tariq Abu Khdeir and the mother of slain Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir in Ramallah on July 7, 2014.
Tariq Abu Khdeir and the mother of slain Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir in Ramallah on July 7, 2014.Credit: Reuters

Tariq Abu Khdeir, the 15-year-old Palestinian-American seen on video last summer being beaten brutally by three Israeli policemen, was received last month at the White House by U.S. National Security Council officials, ahead of an upcoming Abu Khdeir family visit to East Jerusalem.

CNN also reported on Monday that many Obama administration officials believe Israel takes a nonchalant attitude toward army killings and woundings of Palestinian-American minors, unless the incidents are captured on video.

Suha Abu Khdeir, who accompanied her son to the West Wing meeting on April 15, said they had sought American assurances that Tariq would not be targeted by police during their visit to East Jerusalem's Shoafat neighborhood, where many members of their extended family live.

"I'm hoping that they can do something to help us [so] we don't endure any difficulties on our travels when we get there," said the mother. White House officials, she added, "didn't guarantee anything." The Abu Khdeirs live in Tampa, Florida.

Tariq Abu Khdeir was beaten and kicked senseless last July during one of the violent East Jerusalem demonstrations that followed the burning alive of his 16-year-old cousin, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, for which Israeli Jewish extremists have been arrested. One of the three policemen has been indicted for attacking the boy while he was helpless and "until [Abu Khdier] lost his senses," according to the charge sheet. The boy was jailed for several days and charged with using a slingshot against police, an accusation he denies, but the charges against him were later dropped.

"The U.S. government has remained closely engaged with Tariq and his family since his return from Jerusalem," a White House official said. "As part of the follow-up on pending issues related to his case, National Security Council staff met with the Abu Khdeirs recently."

U.S. official: 'We expect meaningful answer'

Also according to the CNN report, a senior administration official said that the U.S. is working with Israeli authorities and expects "to receive a meaningful answer" from an investigation into the death of an American citizen in the Palestinian town of Silwad in October. The official was referring to Orwa Hammad, 14, a Palestinian-American killed by the Israel Defense Forces on Oct. 24. The IDF said Hammad was preparing to throw a Molotov cocktail onto a road.

The senior administration official said the White House was "concerned also by the arrest and detention of several American citizen minors in recent months, including most recently Abdallah Abdo in Jerusalem who told us he had been severely beaten while in police custody, as was American citizen Tariq [Abu] Khdeir in July. Our consular team observed injuries on Mr. Abdo that appear consistent with his version of events. If accurate, we strongly condemn such excessive use of force."

The official stressed that "whenever an American citizen is harmed, we expect full, transparent and credible investigations and – if necessary – accountability."

Last August, after numerous members of the Abu Khdeir extended family had been arrested in East Jerusalem protests, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said U.S. officials were "concerned about the fact that members of the [Abu] Khdeir family appeared to be singled out for arrest by the Israeli authorities."

CNN's Jake Tapper reported Monday that off-the record interviews with numerous administration officials indicate "a widespread belief within the Obama administration that the Israeli government does not take these incidents against American citizens with the seriousness U.S. officials believe they merit. Unless there is video evidence that excessive force was used, as in the case of Tariq [Abu] Khdeir, Israeli government officials inevitably conclude that the action taken was justified and in keeping with national security needs, officials say."

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