The tenuous Israeli-Palestinian relationship teetered on a knife's edge last week when the bodies of three murdered Israeli teens were found. It threatened to tip into outright mayhem days later when a Palestinian teen was kidnapped and burned alive in a revenge killing. And this weekend, a Florida teenager was at the center of the latest seesawing conflict after he was allegedly brutally beaten by Israeli forces during a protest.
Tariq Khedir, a 15-year-old who goes to high school in Tampa, was released from prison this morning and is now under house arrest. The U.S. government has called for a full probe into a beating activists say was caught on video.
That footage comes from last Thursday, activists say, when Khedir was at a protest following the kidnapping and murder of his cousin, Mohammed Abu Khedir. The Tampa-area teen, who had returned to the Middle East for the summer, suffered a broken nose and chin in the assault, his family says.
His family quickly appealed to the U.S. embassy after they say Khedir was denied medical treatment and locked up for most of the weekend. The State Department asked for a probe.
"We are profoundly troubled by reports that he was severely beaten," the State Department said in a statement. "We are calling for a speedy, transparent, and credible investigation."
An Israeli police spokesman countered that Khedir was one of six "rioters" arrested at the protest, but his family denies he was part of any violence.
After days of pressure, Khedir was released on bond yesterday and ordered to spend nine days on house arrest with his family.
The move came as Israel has now arrested six suspects in the murder of Khedir's cousin, a 16-year-old who was nabbed off the street and apparently set on fire while still alive. Moshe Yaalon, Israel's defense minister, called the suspects "Jewish terrorists" and promised they would "face the full weight of the law."
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Their crime came in the wake of the terrible murders of three Israeli teens: Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel. Palestinian extremists are believed to be behind those killings.
Khedir's release and the arrests could calm tensions in the area, but the heightened cycle of violence seems unlikely to slow. Overnight, Hamas fired more than a dozen rockets into Israeli in retaliation for an airstrike that killed seven fighters in southern Gaza late Sunday.