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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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July 7th, 2014
04:24 PM ET

Israeli spokesperson: 'No excuse' for beating of American teen

(CNN)American teenager Tariq Khdeir, 15, a high school sophomore in Tampa, was given house arrest by a court in Jerusalem on Sunday after an incident in which his family says he was beaten by Israeli security forces.

The State Department has called the beating of Khdeir troubling.

"They are investigating whether he was throwing rocks ... Even he was, the question is, was this the right response to that? Obviously we don't think so," a senior official told CNN.

"There is no excuse for this sort of behavior, and we're currently investigating it," Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper." "We've initiated an impartial, objective, independent inquiry into exactly what happened."

Palestinians say this kind of violence happens all the time, the only difference with this incident is the victim was American.

"I beg to disagree," says Regev. "The police have to work in the framework of the law, they're not above the law, that's what happens in our neighbor countries."

But several human rights groups disagree with Regev. One group looked at all incidents of violence against Palestinians by Jewish settlers, and said indictments occur in less than 10% of the cases – most are simply dismissed.

"Israel is a country where we have a very independent, I would say fiercely independent judiciary. And anyone who has a complaint against the way the Israeli army, the Israeli police, Israeli citizens have behaved, you have open to you a whole series of legal procedures that people use," says Regev.

News of the beating came on the heels of the abduction and killing of Mohammed Abu Khedair, a Palestinian teenager and the American teenager's cousin. He died from being burned alive and hit on the head with a blunt object, according to Palestinian General Prosecutor Mohammed al-Auwewy, citing a medical autopsy.

There are many Israelis, especially those on the left, who believe the murder did not happen in a vacuum, that this is part of the culture in Israel – hostility towards Palestinians nurtured by Israeli politicians.

"Abu Khdeir’s murderers are not “Jewish extremists.” They are the descendants and builders of a culture of hate and vengeance that is nurtured and fertilized by the guides of “the Jewish state": Those for whom every Arab is a bitter enemy, simply because they are Arab," an editorial in Haaretz newspaper Monday stated.

"Prosecuting the murderers is no longer sufficient. There must be a cultural revolution in Israel," read the editorial.

"The Israeli civil society, the government, wall-to-wall everyone has condemned, totally condemned that murder," Regev said.

"We promised to investigate, we promised to bring the perpetrator of that crime to justice, and guess what? We delivered, we've done exactly that," said Regev.

Police arrested six Jewish Israeli suspects in connection with the Abu Khdeir's death. They said there was a "strong indication" the attackers may have been motivated by a desire for revenge over the deaths of three Israeli teenagers, whose bodies were found a week ago in a field in the West Bank.

"The people who conducted this crime, they are for us people who we despise, people who have no place in our society," said Regev.

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