Warning Graphic Violence!
- I watched Israeli police beat my American cousin!
by Tamara Essayyad, http://www.washingtonpost.com/
Tamara Essayyad is a Palestinian-American attorney and policy commentator based in Washington, D.C.
The scene opens with two masked men kneeling over what looks like a rice sack, one man holding it down, the other man repeatedly raising his right fist and pounding it. The fisted man stands up, giving us a clearer view, and begins stomping on the figure. Then it moves and we see a head and small body writhe in pain: The rice sack is a person. Long after the figure goes limp, the men continue the assault.
The unmoving rice sack was my cousin, 15-year-old Palestinian American Tarek Abu Khdeir from Tampa, Fla. The two masked men are Israeli police officers.
Videos and pictures of Tarek hit international mainstream and social media within hours — perhaps because he is tied to the brutal revenge kidnapping and murder of his cousin, 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khieder, or perhaps because he is an American. Tarek’s family, who live in communities across the United States and in Jerusalem, was lucky: Calls from journalists (about what high school he goes to and what his hobbies are) helped get him released from an Israeli jail and sent to a hospital.
The problem is that Tarek is not alone. This week’s violent attacks on two teenage boys, and an entire Jerusalem village, are not outliers. This is how Israeli security forces work, both inside and outside the Palestinian Territory.
State-sanctioned Israeli brutality toward local Palestinian populations is a regular occurrence in Israel and the West Bank. As a result of the disappearance of three Israeli teens hitchhiking in the West Bank (they were later murdered), Israel’s response was to kill six Palestinians, arrest some 700, invade 1,600 homes, schools and businesses and bomb over 30 sites.