Rioting U.S. teen arrested in eastern Jerusalem released on bail

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An American teen, cousin of the Palestinian teen found murdered in the Jerusalem forest, was released on bail after being arrested for throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli police.

Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, from Tampa, Florida, who was visiting family in eastern Jerusalem, was arrested during riots following the discovery of the body of Muhammed Abu Khieder. He was beaten on the head and face, in an incident reportedly caught on video. In the video, the teen’s face, like other teens throwing rocks and firebombs at Israeli security forces, is covered with a mask, making identification impossible. He was one of six teens arrested at the riot. Three of the teens were carrying knives, Israel Police told reporters.

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Tariq Abu Khdeir was released Sunday on bail of about $900 and ordered to not enter the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, where the murdered teen was buried and which has been the scene of significant rioting over the weekend.

Khdeir, who was born in the United States and is a U.S. citizen, was visited in jail on Saturday by the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem.

“We are profoundly troubled by reports that (Khdeir) 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,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement released on Saturday.

“We reiterate our grave concern about the increasing violent incidents, and call on all sides to take steps to restore calm and prevent harm to innocents,” the statement said.

Israel Police on Saturday launched an investigation into the police actions shown on the video.