Israel accused of targeting kin of Palestinian teen

Washington - The US on Wednesday charged Israel had targeted members of a Palestinian family whose teenage son was kidnapped and killed in July along with two cousins, who are US citizens.

Tensions between Palestinians and Israelis in annexed east Jerusalem plunged to a new low on 2 July when 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khder was snatched from an east Jerusalem street and later found burned alive.

Israeli police arrested six alleged Jewish extremists as suspects and on 17 July charged three, freeing the others.

The death of the Palestinian teen - thought likely in retaliation for the abduction and killing of three Israeli Students in late June - sparked rioting and helped unleash the conflict under way in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

Family singled out

Three days after his death, on 5 July, the US slammed Israel's arrest of a 15-year-old cousin, Tarek Abu Khder, aged 15, a US citizen. He was beaten in detention and has since been freed and returned to Florida.

On 28 July, another cousin of Abu Khder, also American, was arrested in Israel as well, the State Department said on Wednesday.

Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf identified him as "Mohammed Abou Khdeir," which would mean his name is the same as his murdered cousin's.

"We can confirm that Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a US citizen, was arrested on 28 July. The US consulate general in Jerusalem is providing consular assistance. A consular official visited him on 14 August. The consulate is also in contact with Mr. Khdeir's family and his lawyer," Harf said.

"We are concerned that the US consulate general in Jerusalem was not notified of his arrest by the government of Israel. We are also concerned about the fact that members of the Khdeir family appeared to be singled out for arrest by the Israeli authorities," Harf added