The Obama Administration has responded critically to the decision from an Israeli court to give an Israeli border police officer just community service for his entirely unjustified attack on an American teenager. Tariq Khdeir, 15, a Palestinian-American, was beaten by the officer, whose name has been withheld by the courts to avoid any further repercussions for him or his family. The beating was filmed after the officer caught the teenager near a riot in East Jerusalem in July 2014. Despite this evidence (and no evidence of just cause) the Israeli court gave the officer just 45 days of community service and a suspended prison term of four months.
Here is the video showing the officer stomping on the teenager and hitting him despite his being on the ground and apparently immobilized. Indeed, he appears unconscious as they carry him to the road but he is again attacked by the officer:
State prosecutors requested a seven-month jail term for the beating after international outrage over the video.
The Court however noted the officer’s remorse and his service to the state security forces as mitigating circumstances.
Tariq, who was 15 at the time, was spending the summer with relatives in East Jerusalem when violence broke out over the gruesome killing of his cousin Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, by Jewish extremists. The killers reportedly acted to avenge the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli youths by Palestinian militants in the West Bank. Police said that Tariq was masked and holding a wooden slingshot when the officer chased him.
The State Department has sharply criticized the Israeli handling of the case in the following statement from Spokesperson John Kirby:
We were disappointed to learn that the Israeli police officer who severely beat American teenager Tariq Abu Khdeir in July of 2014 was spared prison time by an Israeli court yesterday. Given the clear evidence captured on videotape of the excessive use of force, it is difficult to see how this sentence would promote full accountability for the actions of the police officer in this case. We understand there is a possibility for the Israeli state prosecutor to appeal the decision, and we’re going to continue to follow that closely, as you might expect.
I’ll just state again, the safety, security, and protection of American citizens overseas is of paramount importance for this Administration, and we have demonstrated repeatedly – we’ve demonstrated that repeatedly in cases all over the globe.
Here is a statement from the family of Tariq Abu Khdeir:
“To hear that the officer responsible for the inhumane beating of our young son, Tariq, was only sentenced to one-and-a-half months of community service is a shameful slap on the wrist and sends the wrong message that Israel tolerates the violent, extrajudicial beating of children. We continue to demand that justice be served, for the officers that participated in his cruel beating to be held accountable in a transparent manner, and for assurances that such treatment of Palestinian minors by Israeli forces will end.”
I cannot imagine how a court could justify community service in the face of this videotape evidence. Even if the teenager was guilty of some crime (for which he was not charged), the beating was clearly excessive and unjustified. Community service is hardly a commensurate punishment for the beating received by this American teenager.
What do you think?