Palestinian-American teen walks, others 'rot' in Israel jails

Palestinian-American teen walks, others 'rot' in Israel jails
Mon Jul 7, 2014 12:24:04

The mother of the 15-year-old Palestinian boy that was released on bail after being brutally beaten by Israeli police officers says that if her son were not a US citizen, he would likely remain in the Israeli jail.

If Tarek were not American, "he would just be pushed to the side like a dog," Suha Abu Khdeir told reporters following Tarek's hearing on Sunday at an Israeli court in al-Quds, Ma’an News Agency reported.

"He would have been left to rot in jail," she said.

Instead, Tarek was sentenced to nine days house arrest outside the Shufat neighborhood. He and his family plan to return to the US on July 16.

The Palestinian youth was arrested Thursday after being severely beaten by at least three Israeli police officers in the Shufat neighborhood of al-Quds amid clashes following news that his cousin, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was kidnapped and burned alive by Jewish settlers.

"He would have been left to rot in jail"

Video footage capturing the beating emerged later that evening and went viral as word spread that Tarek was an American citizen.

The video, in addition to pictures of the youth before and after the beating, led to a social media outcry and eventually US State Department condemnation of the attack.

Suha Abu Khdeir said that the US consulate in al-Quds (Jerusalem) had been very helpful throughout the case.

"The US consulate has been by our side since the first moment we got news he (was) in jail -- they've been by our side day and night."

Three employees of the US consulate were present at the hearing.

Tariq Abu Khdeir before and after his brutal beating by Israeli police

Meanwhile, an employee of the prisoners' rights group Addameer who attended the hearing said Tarek's American citizenship was one of two main reasons his case got more attention than most.

"The other is that it was caught on camera," said Gavan Kelly, coordinator of the advocacy unit at Addameer.

"This happens all the time. It's just not always caught on camera."

Ivan Karakashian of Defense for Children International concurred.

"And what we're afraid about is the fact that Israeli security forces have begun confiscating all kinds of security cameras, all kinds of things that could prove their brutality," Karakashian said.

"What we've seen is the brutal use of excessive force against a Palestinian child, 15 years old, after that child realized that his cousin has been burned alive in what's apparently a revenge attack," he added.

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