Family of jailed and beaten Tampa boy speaks out

Temple Terrace, Florida — A Bay Area family says one of their own, a teenage high school student who attends Universal Academy of Florida in Tampa, is being held in Jerusalem after being beaten by Israeli soldiers.

According to our 10 News crime guidelines, we made sure to get permission from the family members beforehand.

"I cry... I cry to see his face like this," said Amneh Abukhdeir of her cousin 15-year-old Tariq Khdeir.

Amneh Abukhdeir says her cousin, Tariq, grew up with her family.

"He's like a son to me; to all of us," she said. "He's a very very good boy."

And to Tariq's cousin Abdel, "he's like a little brother for me."

That's why the Abukhdeirs say there's no reason the people they say are Israeli soldiers in the video should have brutally kicked and punched their cousin just days ago while detaining him.

Related story: Tampa teen beaten, jailed in Jerusalem

"I can't imagine that he got beaten like this," Amneh said.

The family says the beating happened after a protest about Tariq's cousin Mohammed's death.

"He was scared. He was scared for his friend," Amneh said.

Tariq's friend and cousin 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was burned to death earlier this week by suspected Israeli extremists in a revenge attack following the deaths of three Israeli teens. As for Tariq?

"This was his first time going home in 11 years," Abdel said.

It was a homecoming he never expected.

"What kind of feeling his mother have now?" Amneh wondered. "I think of her a lot. Really we don't sleep these days.

Now, his family says they need him back.

"Especially during this time of Ramadan," Abdel said. "This is a time where almost nightly we see our family."

"Why Tariq? Why him? Why anyone? Why any child?" asked Amneh

At this time Tariq, a US citizen, is still in Israeli custody.

An official statement has been made on the detention of Tariq Khedir by the U.S. Department of State Spokesperson:

"We can confirm that Tariq Khdeir, an American citizen, is being held by Israeli authorities in Jerusalem. He was visited by an official from the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem today.
We are profoundly troubled by reports that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly condemn any excessive use of force. We are calling for a speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force.
We reiterate our grave concern about the increasing violent incidents, and call on all sides to take steps to restore calm and prevent harm to innocents."


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