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US teenager freed on bail by Israeli court

Tariq Abu KhdeirA Palestinian-American teenager who rights groups say was subjected to a brutal beating by Israeli police has been freed on bail by a Jerusalem court pending an investigation.

Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, was arrested on Thursday in Shuafat in occupied East Jerusalem, during the second day of violent clashes that followed the killing of his Palestinian cousin, who was also a teenager. Police officers led the manacled teen into the Jerusalem criminal court on Sunday morning, severe injuries still visible on his face.

His lawyer said Abu Khdeir was ordered to pay $ 850  bail and complete 10 days of house arrest. He was also banned from entering Shuafat for 15 days. The bail bond, which was reduced from an initial $2,857, is returnable if the conditions are met.

Speaking after the hearing Abu Khdeir's father,  Salah Abu Khdeir, said there was no evidence to support continuing the investigation.

" If my son was involved in throwing rocks, the Israelis would have kept him," he said. "If he was involved in the situation in Shuafat, they would have kept him."

A video released by Palestine TV showed three masked officers beating a handcuffed teenager and then dragging him away.

The boy could not be identified from the tape, but photographs released on Friday by Addameer, a local rights group, showed the badly beaten Abu Khdeir with severe injuries to his face.

Abu Khdeir's father said that the boy in the video was his son, and no other Palestinians have come forward to report similar injuries.

He also said that he was locked in the police station for seven hours without medical treatment until he called the US embassy and they assisted in getting him to hospital.

"As soon as I say this is an American passport for him, they start to change the story and to say, we don't know this is an American and give some excuse," he said.

The boy's mother,  Suha Abu Khdeir, said her son was "not recognisable".

The case has attracted heavy media attention because of his ties to the United States: Abu Khdeir lives with his family in Florida, and was in Jerusalem on holiday. Dozens of journalists attended the hearing. “This happens every day to Palestinians here,” his mother said. “We just have a connection, because we’re American.”

The US state department said it was "profoundly disturbed" by the video and demanded a full investigation.

An Israeli police spokesman said the videos were "edited," and accused Abu Khdeir of taking part in clashes with police.

The violence in Shuafat came after Abu Khdeir's cousin, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was abducted and later found dead. Palestinians say he was killed in a revenge attack for the murder of three teenage Jewish settlers last month.

His badly burned body was found in a Jerusalem forest earlier this week.

Tariq Abu Khdeir's family had been due to return to the US on July 16th. A US consular official at the hearing said his departure from Israel would be contingent on police finishing their investigation.


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