The United States on Thursday offered uncharacteristically sharp criticism of Israel after a policeman captured on camera beating an American citizen was sentenced to six weeks community service.
State Department spokesman John Kirby says Washington is disappointed the policeman was spared prison time. He says evidence of excessive force is "clear" and the sentence doesn't promote accountability.
Israel's state prosecutor can still appeal the decision.
The U.S. rarely criticizes internal judicial matters in Israel, a close ally.
The incident occurred during a violent protest in east Jerusalem in July 2014.
Fifteen-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir of Tampa, a Palestinian-American dual national, was beaten after the murder of his cousin. Israeli extremists had burned the 16-year-old cousin alive in revenge for the killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank.
An Israeli police officer who assaulted Tampa teenager Tariq Abu Khdeir while the Palestinian-American was visiting Jerusalem last year was convicted by an Israeli magistrate on Wednesday, according to the Jerusalem Post.
But the officer, who was not identified, will serve no time in jail because he "confessed and expressed regret," the article said. He was sentenced to about six weeks of community service and may retain his job, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Tariq Abu Khdeir was 15 when a video showing two Israeli officers beating him on July 3, 2014, went viral. The Tampa boy was visiting East Jerusalem when he went to a demonstration for his cousin, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian teenager who had been abducted and burned to death. Palestinians said the 16-year-old was killed in an act of revenge for the deaths of three Israeli teenagers slain three weeks before. Their deaths set off a chain of events that led to the Gaza war in the summer of 2014.
Tariq Abu Khdeir was accused of attacking the Israeli officers. He was jailed for three days and then placed under house arrest for nine days before being allowed to return home to Tampa. In January, the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem said all charges were dropped against him and that the teen was "cleared of any wrongdoing," according to the Jerusalem Post.
The family of Tariq Abu Khdeir released this statement:
"To hear that the officer responsible for the inhumane beating of our young son, Tariq, was only sentenced to one-and-a-half months of community service is a shameful slap on the wrist and sends the wrong message that Israel tolerates the violent, extrajudicial beating of children. We continue to demand that justice be served, for the officers that participated in his cruel beating to be held accountable in a transparent manner, and for assurances that such treatment of Palestinian minors by Israeli forces will end."