Israeli policeman given community service for beating Palestinian-American boy

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 18, 2015 12:13 PM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli policeman was spared jail and sentenced to community service on Wednesday for beating an American teenager of Palestinian descent during Jerusalem disturbances last year, an incident that stirred U.S. concern.

Tariq Khdeir was visiting from Tampa, Florida, as protests erupted over the July 2, 2014 abduction and killing of his 16-year-old cousin, Mohammed Abu Khudeir, in Jerusalem by three Israeli suspects.

Amateur video showed two Israeli riot policemen setting upon Tariq Khdeir, who was 15 at the time. One held the youth down while the other punched and kicked him. He was left with a black eye and swollen lip.

Police said Khdeir was among six protesters caught taking part in clashes, while he said he was only a bystander.

Israel pressed charges against one of the policeman, who was convicted of assault and battery in Jerusalem Magistrates Court.

The court on Wednesday sentenced the policeman, whose name was not released, to 45 days' community service and a suspended prison sentence of four months, a spokeswoman for the Justice Ministry's police internal affairs department told Reuters.

"We requested that he be jailed for seven months," she said, adding that she was unable to elaborate on the sentencing. A court spokesman declined comment, saying the case was sealed.

The U.S. embassy in Israel had no immediate comment.

At the time of Khdeir's beating, the U.S. State Department said it was "profoundly troubled" by reports on the incident and "strongly condemn(ed) any excessive use of force".

Israel has charged three Jews with the murder of Khdeir's cousin, saying they had sought to avenge the abduction and killing in June 2014 of three Israeli youths by Hamas militants.

The incidents sparked a cascade of violence culminating in the July-August war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Richard Balmforth)