Tarek Abu Khdeir speaks moments after his release about his beating and arrest.
Just before noon Tarek Abu Khdeir, the 15-year-old American-Palestinian who was brutally beaten by Israeli police last Thursday, walked into court wearing the same clothes he had on when arrested. After a brief closed deliberation, with media corralling in the narrow hallway of the Jerusalem District Court, he was released after the payment of $880 (3,000 NIS) and under the condition of spending nine days under house arrest, despite not being charged with any crime. During arraignment, prosecutors for the police originally requested Abu Khdeir remain in the country for 15 days– an additional six days past his scheduled flight out– during which time an investigation against him will continue. Police have sealed the details of the on-going inquiry.
The youth will be remanded to a relative’s house in nearby Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem, as the judge issued a stay away order against his uncle’s home where he was apprehended. Indeed it is a family vacation gone terribly awry, leaving the high schooler at risk of detention in a foreign prison, and his parents mystified.
“They are holding him under investigation to try to pin something on him and I’m not happy with that,” said the youth’s mother, Suha Abu Khdeir outside of the Jerusalem District Court. If police decide to charge Abu Khdeir, he will not be allowed to exit Israel on July 16th as planned. “Why should he have to stay here,” she continued, “my son almost died from that beating.”
Police assert Abu Khdier was detained because he threw rocks during a demonstration. However his family rejects the claim, maintaining he was picked up at random in a sweep during a demonstration near their home. There is a video of the arrests that a neighbor filmed, which picks up with Abu Khdeir already lying on the pavement, with police striking his body until he lost consciousness.
“He’s very badly injured. He’s not recognizable,” said Suha Abu Khdeir. “I burst out into tears for the first time seeing him. They haven’t let me see him in three days. This is my first time seeing him. He doesn’t look like himself. He was crying as well,” she continued.
Tarek Abu Khdeir is only 15, and an American citizen of Palestinian background. He is not a resident of Jerusalem, where he was beaten and arrested days ago by Israeli police, yet his detention last Thursday has thrust him to the center of the on-going struggles in Shuafat. It is the neighborhood of his family, one of the largest in the middle-class East Jerusalem area, and the focal point of near continuous clashes that have spread across the city since a Palestinian youth– in fact Tarek’s first cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir– was abducted and burned alive days ago.
Since Monday, clashes have taken hold of Shuafat and nearly every Palestinian hamlet in East Jerusalem following the abduction of Mohamed Abu Khdeir, 16. The teen was abducted on Tuesday and burned to death in an apparent revenge killing after the bodies of three Israeli youths were found in the West Bank outside of Hebron the day before. Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Nafatli Fraenkel were forced into a car in the Gush Etzion settlement block three weeks ago, setting into motion a series of anti-Arab retaliation attacks. Aside from Tarek and Mohammed, there was also an attempted kidnapping in Shuafat days ago; Mousa Zalum, 10, just managed to escape.