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Sun, 06 Jul 2014 17:28:10 +0000
(JERUSALEM) -- As tensions escalate in the Middle East, Israel's Ambassador to the United States said the Israeli government plans to find and prosecute those who murdered a Palestinian teenager in what appears to be a revenge killing.
Ron Dermer condemned the murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, telling ABC's Martha Raddatz on Sunday's This Week that "a murder is a murder is a murder, whether it's a Jew or an Arab."
Six Israeli suspects were reportedly arrested on Sunday in connection with the murder of Abu Khdeir, whose charred body was found in a forest.
"Our prime minister right when this happened condemned it [and] said that he would use all means available to bring the perpetrators to justice," said Dermer. "We will find and prosecute to the full extent of the law anyone who perpetrated this action."
Dermer said authorities believe Khdeir's murder was in response to the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens – Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-American citizenship.
Dermer also called video showing Israeli police officers beating a teenager, identified as Abu Khdeir's cousin Tariq, as "very disturbing."
"Excessive force is not something that we accept in Israel and there's an investigation by our Justice Ministry to look into exactly what happened," he said.
Tariq Abu Khdeir, of Tampa, Fla., was released from jail Sunday. He was visiting family in Jerusalem with his parents and sisters when police arrested him Thursday, a day after his cousin's death.
Video clips posted online show Israeli police officers beating a young male, before dragging him away in arrest.
Israeli police forces claimed the teen was part of a group of masked youths armed with knives who resisted arrest and attacked the officers while participating in ongoing clashes. He denied participating in the protests.
After his release from custody Sunday, Abu Khdeir told ABC News he would ask the officers why they attacked him.
"At least try to tell me why would you do that to me if I didn't do anything to you," he said.
While fears have been raised of the region plunging into further back-and-forth attacks, Dermer maintained that the deaths and Israel's response do not signal an ongoing cycle of violence. Israel struck 10 sites in the Gaza Strip overnight in response to rocket fire directed at Israel.
"It's not a back and forth. It's not a cycle of violence," Dermer said. "What we have is a terror organization in Gaza that has fired thousands of rockets at Israel's cities and that are firing rockets at us today."
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