One day after the 15-year-old Arab-American cousin of murder victim Muhammad Abu Khdeir was released to house arrest after a video of him being arrested and beaten by Israeli Police surfaced, the incident is being investigated by the Justice Ministry.
According to police, prior to his arrest, Tariq Abu Khdeir, of Tampa, Florida, was masked, armed and actively participating in rioting against officers during a violent demonstration in east Jerusalem’s Shuafat neighborhood following the death of his cousin.
Muhammad’s badly burned corpse was found in the Jerusalem Forest Wednesday morning shortly after he was kidnapped in Beit Hanina, in what is believed to be a revenge killing for the June kidnapping and murder of Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, Eyal Yifrah, 19, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16.
“He was an active participant in a riot with six masked Palestinians armed with knives and throwing fire bombs and rocks at police,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld on Monday.
“As a result of the beating, the footage has been sent to the Justice Ministry, which is looking into the behavior of the two officers.”
The boy’s father, Salahedeen Abu Khdeir, denounced the police’s use of force as bordering on attempted murder.
“Everybody who sees the video would say ‘This boy died’ how he [was] beat up,” his father said. “If my son did wrong, or if he broke the law or not, why [did] you beat him up like this?” After being questioned by police, a judge released the badly bruised teenager Sunday under house arrest for nine days at his uncle’s east Jerusalem home. His mother said the family was to return to the United States on July 16.
The Justice Ministry said the police internal affairs department had opened an investigation into the matter, and has reportedly suspended both of the officers involved.
While Rosenfeld said he would not comment about any impropriety among the two arresting officers, he noted that “during police operations arrests should be made as quickly and cleanly as possible, without any further incidents.”
Still, Rosenfeld questioned Tariq’s version of events.
“One of the questions also being asked by police is how a Florida student ends up breaking the law in Israel by being involved in a full-scale riot in Shuafat,” he said, adding that the teen was disarmed after wielding a “long, sharp object” at the time of his arrest.
Reuters contributed to this report.