Israeli officials have taken an American teenager into custody, a State Department spokeswoman confirmed in a statement calling for a “credible” investigation into whether he was beaten by police.
“We can confirm that Tariq Khdeir, an American citizen, is being held by Israeli authorities in Jerusalem,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “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.”
WTSP, a local Tampa media outlet, explains that the high-school student was in Israel “attending a demonstration following the death of his cousin, Mohammed Abu Khdeir,” a 16-year-old who “was killed by a suspected Israeli extremist in a revenge attack following the deaths of three Israeli teens who were abducted in the West Bank last month.”
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to find Khdeir’s killers. “We don’t know yet the motives or the identities of the perpetrators, but we will. We will bring to justice the criminals responsible for this despicable crime, whoever they may be,” Netanyahu said. “Murder, riots, incitement, vigilantism — they have no place in our democracy.”
Psaki “reiterate[d] our grave concern about the increasing violent incidents, and call on all sides to take steps to restore calm and prevent harm to innocents.”