American teen beaten by Israeli police is cleared of wrongdoing

The cousin of Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s videotaped beating by Israeli police in Jerusalem led to widespread outrage. He had been arrested and accused of participating in riots.

Tariq Abu Khdeir speaks about his beating at a CAIR panel in the U.S. (Screenshot, CAIR)
Tariq Abu Khdeir speaks about his beating at a CAIR panel in the U.S. (Screenshot, CAIR)

Palestinian-American 15-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir, whose severe beating by Israeli police while he was in custody last summer was caught on video, has been cleared of all wrongdoing in Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.

Following his beating, the American citizen was arrested and held under house arrest for nearly two weeks before being permitted to return home to Florida.

The incident took place after Tariq’s cousin, 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was burned alive and murdered by Jewish extremists in a Jerusalem-area forest. Protests and heavy clashes took place in East Jerusalem after Muhammad’s murder.

Tariq said he was watching the protests, three days after his cousin was killed, and trying to get away from the violence between Israeli police and protestors when he was chased by three officers, beaten and arrested.

Israeli police said the 15 year old took part in the protests, resisted arrested and was carrying a slingshot to throw stones.

The American Consulate in Jerusalem told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that Tariq has been cleared of all wrongdoing and is free to return to Israel to visit his family in occupied East Jerusalem.

Tariq Abu Khdeir’s beating was caught on video, which shows the accused officer and additional officers arresting the boy, with one policeman apparently sitting on Khdeir to handcuff him while the accused officer is seen kicking and punching him repeatedly. A third officer is also seen helping drag Abu Khdeir toward a police vehicle, during which time the accused officer again kicks the boy who appears to be unconscious.

In September, one of the police officers was criminally charged with assaulting a minor.

An internal police investigation found evidence “supporting the guilt of the police officer suspected of severe violent crimes,” according to Israel’s Justice Ministry.

The teen, Tariq Abu Khdeir, said at a press conference in Florida at the time, he thinks the other two Israeli officers should be facing charges in his beating.

“I hope everyone, every officer that took part in my beating is taken to justice,” he said.

Israel police violence has taken the lives of at least three Arab citizens in recent months, leading to significant protests throughout the country. A Bedouin men was shot to death by Israeli police during a raid earlier this month, and another Bedouin man was killed during clashes after his funeral. In November, police shot in the back a 22-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel while he was fleeing.

Matt Surrusco contributed to this report.

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