Nov 19, 3:40 PM EST

US criticizes Israel for soft sentence on policeman

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States is offering 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, Florida, 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.

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