Israel frees jailed Palestinian-American boy

  • Reuters, Jerusalem
  • Updated: Jul 06, 2014 18:49 IST

An Israeli judge on Sunday released from jail and placed under house arrest a 15-year-old American of Palestinian descent whose apparent beating by Israeli police in East Jerusalem has drawn US concern.

Tariq Khdeir from Tampa, Florida, is a cousin of Mohammed Abu Khudeir, 16, whose abduction and killing in Jerusalem on Wednesday sparked violent protests and calls from Palestinians for a new uprising against Israel.

Many Palestinians, including President Mahmoud Abbas, say the teen was the victim of right-wing Jews avenging the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers, who disappeared while hitchhiking in the occupied West Bank on June 12, and whose bodies were found on Monday.

Tariq Khdeir is greeted by his mother after being released from jail in Jerusalem. An Israeli judge on Sunday released from jail and placed under house arrest the 15-year-old American of Palestinian descent whose apparent beating by Israeli police in East Jerusalem has drawn US concern. (Reuters)

An Israeli security source said on Sunday that six Jewish suspects have been arrested in the investigation into Abu Khudeir's death have been arrested. The source did not identify them.

Israeli-Arab tensions have risen sharply in the wake of the killings. Israel said on Sunday its aircraft had attacked 10 sites in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket strikes, although the government dismissed wider action against the enclave.

A lawyer for Khdeir, a high school student who was visiting family in East Jerusalem, said the youngster would be restricted to a relative's home for nine days.

A video clip circulated on the Internet on Saturday showed two Israeli border policemen holding down and repeatedly pummelling a masked youth before carrying him away.

A later part of the video shows Khdeir's face with a heavy black eye and swollen lip.

On Saturday, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed that Khdeir was being held by Israeli authorities and said a consular officer had visited him. A judge on Friday had ordered him held in custody until a hearing on Sunday.

"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 protesters caught and detained on Thursday during clashes with police. Khdeir's mother told Reuters her son was watching the protest and had not taken part.

She said the family was planning to return to the United States on July 16.

Israel's Justice Ministry said the police internal affairs department had opened an investigation into allegations he had been beaten.

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