(JTA) — For Israelis, the enduring image of the past few weeks may be the montage of the three Israeli teens murdered last month after being abducted from a hitchhiking post in the West Bank.
But another enduring image has emerged in the last few days that is unlikely to garner much sympathy for Israel: a minute-long video in which a Palestinian-American teenager is beaten by two Israeli border policemen. One officer is seen pinning Tariq Abu Khdeir to the ground while the other pummels the 15-year-old with his fists and kicks to his head.
After the incident, photos of the boy’s bloody face, including black eyes and a severely swollen lip, rocketed around the globe.
It was but one episode in a gruesome few days that saw Tariq’s cousin, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, burned to death by Jewish extremists, Gaza rocket crews fire scores of missiles into Israel and the Israeli army respond with an expanded bombing operation of targets in the Gaza Strip.
Amid the escalation of violence, Tariq’s beating received even wider attention because it was captured on video and he is a U.S. citizen from Tampa, Fla. And the beating was doled out not by extremists but by Israeli authorities — Border Police wearing the green uniforms of the Israel Defense Forces.
“We are profoundly troubled by reports that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly condemn any excessive use of force,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “We are calling for a speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force.”
Israeli police have accused Tariq of rioting and attacking officers; he is under house arrest while the incident is being investigated.