Israel investigating police beating of Palestinian rioter
The United States called for speedy investigation of an incident in which it said a U.S. citizen of Palestinian descent appeared to have been badly beaten by Israeli paramilitary police during riots in East Jerusalem this week.
A video clip circulated on the internet on Saturday showed two Israeli Border police holding down and repeatedly pummeling a masked youth before carrying him away.
The family of Tariq Khdeir, 15, from Tampa, Florida, who was visiting family in East Jerusalem, say he was the target of the punches, although the footage is blurred and the victim cannot be identified as he appears also to be wearing a head covering.
A later part of the video shows Khdeir's face with a heavy black eye and swollen lip. He is the cousin of Mohammed Abu-Khdeir, the youth Palestinians believe was abducted and murdered by far-right Israelis on Wednesday.
The Israeli Justice Ministry said in a statement that the police investigations department was looking into the incident.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the youth was visited by an official from the consulate in Jerusalem on Saturday.
“We are profoundly troubled by reports that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly condemn any excessive use of force. We are calling for a speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force,” Psaki said.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Khdeir was one of six rioters caught and detained in the incident, three of whom were found to be carrying knives.
Writing by Ori Lewis; additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; editing by Ralph Boulton