Tariq Khdeir is escorted by Israeli prison guards during an appearance at Jerusalem magistrate's court.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Justice Ministry’s internal affairs division announced late Wednesday night that it was leaning toward indicting the police officer who allegedly beat 15-year-old Palestinian-American Tariq Khdeir on July 3.
The police officer, whose name is still not being publicized, has been suspended for a minimum of 15 days pending a hearing at which the ministry will make a final decision about whether to file an indictment.
The statement clearly leaned toward indicting the officer, noting that he had repeatedly beaten Khdeir even after the boy had been handcuffed and subdued.
Despite the likely indictment, the statement said that Khdeir had been arrested while wielding a slingshot and wearing a makeshift face mask, and that he had been among a group of protesters who were throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at police.
Under the circumstances, it is possible that both Khdeir and the police officer will be indicted, though the allegations against the officer, including severe beatings, are more serious.
On Sunday, Khdeir’s father spoke to The Jerusalem Post regarding his son’s arrest and alleged beating.
“Everybody who sees the video would say, ‘This boy died,’ how he [was] beat up,” Saleh Khdeir said. “If my son did wrong, or whether he broke the law or not, why [did] you beat him up like this?” Tariq Khdeir is a cousin of murdered Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir.
Also Sunday, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ordered Tariq Khdeir’s conditional release pending an investigation into potential charges of assaulting police.
The elder Khdeir said the beating had happened while his son was walking through a village that is usually non-violent.
He claimed police officers had been hiding and jumped out to attack and later arrest his son.
A police spokesman at the time said the boy had been one of six rioters caught and detained in the incident, three of whom were found to be carrying knives.
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) served as a guarantor for Khdeir’s bail from police custody, reportedly including the boy’s confinement to house arrest for nine days.
“This was a brutal attack and was inhuman treatment to the family of the murder victim Muhammad Abu Khdeir,” Tibi said. “This was embarrassing dimwittedness and violence by the police.”
The court spokesman’s office refused to release all of the details of the hearing, noting that Khdeir is a minor, but various media outlets mentioned that he may have thrown Molotov cocktails and stones at police or been involved in physical altercations with them.
On the other side of the controversy and overshadowing potential charges against Khdeir, the Justice Ministry had said late Saturday night that it was opening an investigation into police officers beating Khdeir after videos of the beating went viral on the Internet.
The beating allegedly occurred while Khdeir was visiting the area with his family to mourn his murdered cousin’s death.
The video, which human rights groups have been circulating, shows two Israeli police officers kicking and beating the high school student, who is from Tampa, Florida. Palestinian media published photos depicting a boy with a badly bruised face, whom they claim is Khdeir.