U.S. asks Israel to probe beating of American teen in Jerusalem

The United States on Saturday called for speedy investigation of an incident in which a 15-year-old American of Palestinian descent appeared to have been badly beaten by Israeli paramilitary police during riots in East Jerusalem.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed that the teen, Tariq Khdeir, was being held by Israeli authorities and said a consular officer visited him on Saturday.

“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,” Psaki said.

A video clip circulated on the Internet on Saturday showed two Israeli border police officers holding down and repeatedly pummeling a masked youth before carrying him away.

The family of Khdeir, who is from Tampa and was visiting relatives in East Jerusalem, say he was the target of the punches, although the footage is blurred and the victim cannot be identified because he appears to be wearing a head covering.

A later part of the video shows Khdeir’s face with a black eye and swollen lip. He is a cousin of Mohammad Abu Khieder, the youth who Palestinians believe was abducted and murdered Wednesday by Israeli rightist extremists. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Khdeir was one of six rioters detained in the incident, three of whom were found to be carrying knives.

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