“And they hit me, and they kept hitting me and then I fell asleep and then I woke up in the hospital.”
That’s how Palestinian-American 15-year-old Tariq Abukhdeir described the savage videotaped beating he endured at the hands of Israeli police in eastern occupied Jerusalem last Thursday.
Seen in the video above posted by Addameer, Abukhdeir spoke shortly after an Israeli court released him to house arrest. He is flanked by his mother and Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament Ahmed Tibi.
The murder of Muhammad set off days of protests in Shuafat neighborhood of eastern occupied Jerusalem where Muhammad lived, during which Tariq was attacked by masked Israeli police.
Israeli police have alleged that Tariq, who lives in Tampa, Florida, and who is in Palestine on a family vacation, was engaged in violence prior to him been beaten unconscious while restrained and helpless.
Although nothing Tariq could have done would justify the horrifying attack by Israeli police, the teen denied this.
“I was standing and watching a group of people… and they came from the side of me, and they grabbed me from the side of me,” he said of his assailants.
Tariq was not charged.
Tariq, who suffered severe injuries, nodded affirmatively when asked if he’d been “treated well” while in prison.
Sky News Middle East reporter Tom Rayner offered a skeptical assessment of Israeli claims against Tariq, saying that no mention had been made of the boy’s alleged involvement in violence during the court hearing.
Tariq was released on $900 bail to house arrest, but is not allowed to return to Shuafat. He will stay with relatives in Beit Hanina, local media report.
The family is now apparently trying to get home to Tariq as soon as possible.
Tariq’s case garnered massive international media attention both because the brutal beating was caught on video and because he is a US citizen, a fact that prompted the State Department to say it was “profoundly troubled” by his treatment.
But Tariq’s experience is far from rare. As of the end of April 2014, a total of 196 Palestinian children were in Israeli prisons, according to Defence for Children International Palestine Section.
Attacks on children common
Human rights groups, including Israel’s B’Tselem, have reported that Palestinian children detained by Israeli occupation forces are routinely subjected to solitary confinement and other forms of mistreatment including rape threats, amounting to torture.
Israeli forces who attack Palestinians are almost never held accountable due to a pervasive culture of impunity.