The beating and arrest in Jerusalem of Tarek Abu Khdeir, 15, a Florida high school student, is getting considerable attention in the U.S. The State Department has issued a “profoundly troubled” statement calling on Israel to investigate the beating and provide “full accountability,” and there was a White House rally about the case yesterday attended by relatives of the boy– photo above, thanks to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is following the matter closely. The story was on ABC News this morning, the Baltimore Sun has published a sympathetic story, in part because Abu Khdeir was born in Baltimore. And the New York Times has covered the case twice now–Jodi Rudoren and Robert Mackey.
Some clips. First, from the Baltimore Sun’s Susan Reimer:
A 15-year-old Baltimore native of Palestinian descent who appears to have been beaten by Israeli paramilitary police during riots in East Jerusalem was released from jail and placed under house arrest Sunday.
Tariq Abu Khdeir, who lived in Baltimore for nearly a decade before moving with family to Florida, was visiting family in East Jerusalem. He will be restricted to a relative’s home for nine days as the result of a decision by an Israeli judge….
Family members in Baltimore, including an aunt and an uncle and cousins, attended a protest outside the White House Saturday against violence against the Palestinian community in the aftermath of the death of three Israeli teens killed while hiking on the West Bank.
The State Department issued a statement on the case, from Jen Psaki, yesterday:
We can confirm that Tariq Khdeir, an American citizen, is being held by Israeli authorities in Jerusalem. He was visited by an official from the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem today.
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.
We reiterate our grave concern about the increasing violent incidents, and call on all sides to take steps to restore calm and prevent harm to innocents.
Matt Duss at ThinkProgress reports from Jerusalem that not everyone is stepping up.
Suha Abu Khdeir, Tarek’s mother, said that the family had received good support from the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. Asked whether the family had been contacted by either their member of Congress, Rep. Kathy Castor, or their Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, with words of support, she said they had not.
Here are excerpts of a statement from the Council on American-Islamic Relations:
CAIR Relieved at Release of Florida Teen Brutally Beaten by Israelis
Muslim civil rights group calls for safe return of Tariq Khdeir to America
(TAMPA, FL 7/6/14) The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Florida) today expressed relief that Florida high school student Tariq Khdeir has been released from custody after he was brutally beaten and detained by Israeli forces. Despite his release, he was placed under house arrest.
“We are relieved that Tariq Khdeir was released and may receive the medical treatment he was denied by Israeli authorities,” said CAIR-Florida Chief Executive Director Hassan Shibly. “It is unacceptable that Tariq has been sentenced to house arrest while those who beat him so brutally remain free.”
He thanked all those worldwide who expressed support for the family and said the international community needs to value the lives and safety of all children, regardless of their ethnicity or religion.
Shibly noted that CAIR-Florida also issued an action alert calling for Tariq Khdeirs safe return to the United States.
The Washington-based Muslim civil rights organization had called on American officials to press for Khdeirs release, and the U.S. State Department subsequently issued a statement…
Israel claims it is opening a probe of the beating.
Oh and here is ABC News this morning. Good report. “Why would you attack me like that? Why would you do anything to me if I didn’t do anything to you?” Tarek Abu Khdeir asks of Israeli authorities in an interview with Alexander Marquardt in Jerusalem after his release to house arrest.
Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer is put on the defensive in an interview by Martha Raddatz. Shown the video of Abu Khdeir’s beating, he accuses the boy of throwing Molotov cocktails:
Obviously it is very disturbing… From what I understand about this particular incident, this boy was one of six boys who attacked police with petrol bombs, Molotov cocktails. Our police are under extreme threat, in the Jerusalem area, they’re facing mobsters [?] and rioters.
The youth denies this. There is more footage at the ABC site in which Marquardt asks Abu Khdeir: Were you throwing rocks, as the police said? Abu Khdeir:
No. I was watching them.
Q. You were walking by with your friends and cousins?
No I was watching them… I’m very angry. I’m speechless, I don’t know what to say to them.
Palestinians on social media are voicing the obvious: this happens all the time to Palestinians, yet nobody seems to care. Abu Khdeir’s case is receiving widespread attention because it was captured on video–and, perhaps more-so, because he is an American teen. His family recognizes this:
Tarek Abu Khdeir’s mother: “If Tarek weren’t a US citizen “he be just pushed to the side like a dog. He’d be left to rot in jail.”
— Graham Liddell (@grahamliddell) July 6, 2014
As Ali Abunimah points out, what happened to Abu Khdeir is far from unique:
Human Rights groups, including Israel’s B’Tselem have reported that Palestinian children detained by Israeli occupation forces are routinely subjected to solitary confinement and other forms of mistreatment including rape threats, amounting to torture.
Israeli forces who attack Palestinians are almost never held accountable due to a pervasive culture of impunity.
Update: This post originally stated that the rally at the White House was organized by CAIR. We stand corrected.