Video footage showing three policemen in riot gear aggressively beating the young American cousin of Mohammed Abu Khdeir,
the Palestinian teen found dead in Jerusalem earlier this week, has sparked fury in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The boy was identified as Tariq Abu Khdeir, who was reportedly arrested and beaten on Thursday evening.
The video shows one of the policemen holding the 15-year-old boy and another officer repeatedly punching and kicking him. Further footage shows the policemen dragging him along the ground while he was apparently unconscious. Palestinians sources said that the teen had been arrested and refused medical treatment after his beating.
Tariq and his family are from Tampa, Florida, and had been visiting his father's family in Shuafat. Salah a-Din Khdeir, Tariq's father, said neighbors had seen the assault on his son and videoed it.
"He was arrested at 7:30pm but was only taken to hispital after midnight," Tariq's father said, adding that he had not been allowed see his son during his detention. ABC news quoted Tariq's mother as saying that her son had been the victim of “attempted murder".
Foreign media reported that Tariq's father asked to stay with his son while he was in detetion, so that he could check for blood in Tariq's urine after his beating, but this was also refused.
The Border Police said in response that the arrest was made during the height of the clashes in East Jerusalem.
"During the violent disturbances in the East Jerusalem area, hundreds of rioters, some of them masked, hurled firebombs, stones and fireworks at troops. As a result of this severe violence, some 15 soldiers and police officers were wounded. From a preliminary investigation into the events shown in the video, it appears that this is the arrest of six masked men, three of whom were carrying knives, and who had resisted arrest and even attacked the troops. Nonetheless, the circumstances of the case are being investigated. It is important to note that during the arrest, firebombs were thrown at the soldiers and almost caused loss of life. It is likely that without the vigilance and determination of the fighters and police officers at the scene, the incident could result in loss of life. "
Following the publication of the video, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to investigate the incident immediately.
Livni said the images indicate on a grave incident that is not indicative of Israel's law enforcement policy. Unfortunately, she said, these were the images that opened news broadcasts worldwide.
The US State Department confirmed Khdeir's arrest and expressed concern of reports Israeli police beat him.
"We are profoundly troubled by reports that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly condemn any excessive use of force. We are calling for a speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force," State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Aviel Magnezi and Ynetnews contributed to this report.