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Tuesday, July 8, 2014 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: The Kochs’ Anti-Civil Rights Roots: New Docs Expose...
2014-07-08

"Absolutely Unjustifiable": Aunt of US Teen Decries Brutal Beating by Israeli Forces Caught on Video

Guests

Suhad Abukhdeir, aunt of Tariq Abu Khdeir, Palestinian-American teenager beaten by Israeli forces. Tariq’s teenage cousin Mohammed was burned alive last week.

Miko Peled, Israeli peace activist and writer. His father was an Israeli general, military governor of the Gaza strip, and a member of Parliament. Miko Peled is the author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.

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Over the weekend, video emerged of the beating of Tariq Abu Khdeir, the 15-year-old Palestinian-American cousin of murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Footage shows him being severely beaten by Israeli officers after being detained during protests over his cousin’s murder. Tariq says he was watching demonstrations in East Jerusalem when he was seized. The video shows him lying on the ground as the officers repeatedly beat him with batons. Tariq has been placed under house arrest pending an investigation into potential charges of assaulting a police officer. He lives in Tampa, Florida, but is in East Jerusalem for the summer visiting his family. He was with his cousin Mohammed just moments before he was kidnapped and murdered last week. In a statement, the State Department said it was "profoundly troubled" by the assault, calling for a "speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for the apparent excessive use of force." We are joined from Tampa by Tariq’s aunt, Suhad Abukhdeir. "This is absolutely unjustifiable," she says of Tariq’s beating. "You have three uniformed men, in full combat gear, against a 15-year-old."

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined by Tariq Abu Khdeir’s aunt right now in Tampa. Now, Tariq is the 15-year-old Palestinian-American cousin of the murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was killed in apparent retaliation for the murder of three Israeli teenagers. Video emerged over the weekend of Tariq being severely beaten by Israeli officers after being detained during protests over his cousin’s murder. Tariq said he was watching demonstrations in East Jerusalem when he was seized. The video shows him lying on the ground as the Israeli officers repeatedly beat him with batons. He was left with facial bruises, severely swollen eyes. Let’s turn to Tariq Abu Khdeir in his own words.

TARIQ ABU KHDEIR: I was actually brutally attacked from the side and heard somebody screaming. They came and attacked me, and I actually went unconscious, and I woke up in the hospital.

REPORTER 1: Why did they attack you?

TARIQ ABU KHDEIR: I don’t know. That’s why I ran.

REPORTER 2: They said that you were throwing stones, something like this.

TARIQ ABU KHDEIR: No, I jumped the fence, and I tried to run away, because I just saw somebody running at me, so I tried to run away.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Tariq Abu Khdeir, the young man you just heard—if you’re listening on the radio, he has two black eyes—has been [placed under house arrest pending an investigation into potential charges of assaulting a police officer] in East Jerusalem. He actually lives in Florida but is in East Jerusalem for the summer visiting his family. He was with his cousin Mohammed just moments before Mohammed was kidnapped and murdered last week. In a statement, the State Department said it was "profoundly troubled" by the assault, calling for a "speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for the apparent excessive use of force."

Joining us now from Tampa, Florida, from PBS studios WEDU, is Suhad Abukhdeir. She is Tariq’s aunt, as well as a relative of Tariq’s slain cousin, Mohammed.

Welcome to Democracy Now! Thank you so much for joining us. Our condolences. Can you talk about what you now understand is happening with Tariq and what happened to Mohammed?

SUHAD ABUKHDEIR: Thank you for having me. What I understand now is, like you were saying, he’s on house arrest and has to pay a fine, which I think is very ridiculous, because after what he’s endured, we should be the ones compensated at this time. As far as Mohammed, we’re still in mourning. You know, the whole city of Shuafat is in mourning, because it’s such a close-knit family. Even the non-Abu Khdeirs in that village have grown up with the Abu Khdeir family for several generations. So everybody feels with us at this time, and we’re still in mourning.

AARON MATÉ: Suhad, I wanted to get your response to Micky Rosenfeld. He’s a spokesperson for the Israeli police. He said Tariq was one of six Palestinians arrested, three of them carrying knives, after a clash in which 15 Israeli officers were injured. And he said Tariq was part of this rally where hundreds of rioters, many of them masked, hurled at the Israeli forces pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, fireworks and stones. What’s your understanding of what Tariq was doing at this protest?

SUHAD ABUKHDEIR: First of all, when you’re inside your house and you’re 15 years old and you hear a commotion downstairs, it’s kind of hard to stay inside. So you go down and you look, and you wonder, "What’s going on here?" You know, and from a distance, he could see the protesting, but he was nowhere near it. If there was that many protesters around him, where were they when he was getting beat up? Wouldn’t they have intervened? Somebody would have intervened. And to have all these weapons that they’re claiming, somebody would have definitely intervened.

But as far as everybody’s claims that the six that were with him had all these weapons, all the weapons that they could have had in the world don’t even justify this brutal attack, with nobody around him. You can see in the video nobody is within the vicinity of Tariq. And this is absolutely unjustifiable. You have three uniformed men that are in full combat gear, weighing at least 200 pounds each, 150 pounds, against a 15-year-old who—

AMY GOODMAN: It looks like we lost, on the satellite feed, the aunt of Tariq Abu Khdeir. She was describing what happened to him at the hands of Israeli soldiers. The mother of one of the Israeli teenagers killed in the West Bank last month has spoken out against the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. This is Rachel Fraenkel, Naftali’s mother.

RACHEL FRAENKEL: Even in the depth of the mourning over our son, it’s hard for me to describe how distressed we were over the outrage that happened in Jerusalem. The shedding of innocent blood is against morality. It’s against the Torah and Judaism. It’s against the basis of our life in this country. The murderers of our children, whoever sent them, whoever helped them, whoever incited towards that murder, will all be brought to justice. But it will be them and no innocent people. And it will be done by the government, the police, the Justice Department, and not by vigilantes. No mother or father should go through what we are going now, and we share the pain of the parents of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. The legacy of the life and death of Naftali, Eyal and Gilad is a legacy of love, of humanity, of national unity.

AARON MATÉ: That was Rachel Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali, who was one of the Israeli teens who was murdered in the West Bank last month. We are joined still in Jerusalem by Miko Peled. Miko Peled, the mother here of a murdered settler emerging as a voice of peace, your comments on that?

MIKO PELED: Yeah, I don’t think she’s emerging as a voice of peace at all. I think if she wanted to be recognized as a voice of peace, she would condemn, completely condemn, all Israeli violence towards the Palestinians. Ever since these three boys went missing, the Israeli military has gone completely mad. The Israeli soldiers have been marching through Palestinian towns and villages like Roman legions, destroying everything in their path, destroying homes, beating children, arresting, torturing. Countless have been killed, of innocent civilians have been killed. This has been complete madness. And if these parents were really interested in calming things down, they would tell Netanyahu to pull back his troops, to stop bombing Gaza, to relieve the people of Gaza of this brutal and inexcusable siege. People living 45 minutes from me, and they don’t have—they can’t have water fit for drinking or the most basic medicines, not to mention any way to deal with the horrific attacks that they’re subjected to right now. So, if anybody is really interested in calming things down, this is where they need to point the finger. This is who they need to be talking to.

Just yesterday, I happened to be at the grave of one of the boys killed on the 15th of May, Nadim Nuwara. And to listen to his father, Siam, speak at the gravesite of this 17-year-old boy, all he asks for is justice. All he asks for is justice, you know? And to compare that, to juxtapose that with the madness going on in the streets here in Israel and the madness that the Israeli military has been subjecting the Palestinians is just unbelievable.

AMY GOODMAN: Miko Peled, we want to thank you for being with us, Israeli peace activist, writer. His father was the Israeli general, Matti Peled. Miko Peled is the author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. When we come back, we’ll be joined by Lisa Graves of The Progressive magazine on the Koch brothers. Stay with us.

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