The Florida family of a Palestinian-American teen beaten by Israeli police slammed the decision to free an officer without any prison time as “definitely not justice.”
“It’s typical,” said Suhad Abukhdeir, the aunt of Tariq Abu Khdeir, whose brutal 2014 beating in Jerusalem was captured on videotape. “There’s nothing else to expect.”
Tariq Abu Khdeir was 15 when he was assaulted by Israeli policemen after being arrested during unrest following the murder of his cousin by Jewish extremists.
The only Israeli officer charged in the case has been sentenced to 45 days of community service and a suspended prison sentence.
“What kind of sentencing is that?” asked another of Khdeir’s aunts, Sanah Abukhdeir. “It’s not justice. It’s definitely not justice.”
Tariq Abu Khdeir, a Tampa high school student, travelled to East Jerusalem in late June 2014, to see his family He had been there for less than a week when his cousin, Mohammed Abu Khdeir,was kidnapped and burned alive by Israeli extremists.
During the tense, protest-filled week that followed, Tariq Abu Khdeir was assaulted by a pair of Israeli policeman. According to the official Israeli account, Tariq had attacked authorities with a slingshot prior to being set upon by the police. Tariq maintained that the police beating was unprovoked, a claim that was vindicated when Israeli authorities dropped all charges against him.
The teen returned to Florida and is now continuing in high school.
Khdeir’s attorney, responding to the ruling, criticized the punishment for being “extremely light.” A spokesman for the U.S. State Department agreed.
“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,” John Kirby said. He added that there is a possibility that the Israeli prosecutor in the case will appeal the decision, and affirmed the State Department’s commitment to following the case.
Sanah Abukhdeir isn’t hopeful the decision will change. She called the slap on the wrist a setback for accountability and coexistance between Israelis and Palestinians.
“I want peace for both sides,” she said. “But when you have this type of system where they see community service as punishment, whether it was a Palestinian murdering a Jewish kid or an Israeli murdering a Palestinian kid, it’s not possible.
Talya Zax is the Forward’s culture intern.