Teen beaten in Israel returns to Tampa

Tampa, Florida — Tariq Khdeir returned to cheers at Tampa International Airport late Wednesday weeks after he had allegedly beaten by Israeli police.

"It feels so good to be back in Tampa," he said, "and I can't wait to go fishing with my friends."

And he took time to make a short statement on the situation in the Middle East.

"And I am only 15 and I will never think about freedom in the same way I did two months ago.

"I want to ask you all to please remember my cousin and the 36 kids that died in Gaza and over the past several days. They have names like mine.

"I hope the violence will stop for their sake. No child, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli, deserves to die."

Family members are still in shock about what happened to him.

"I wanna just see them safe and sound -- all of them, especially Tariq," said Hamdi Swalem, Tariq's uncle.

Swalem said that his nephew was excited to go on the trip to Israeli, he hadn't been there since he was a child.

"This is his true, first visit back home and look what happened it's a tragic experience," said Swalem.

Tariq Khadeir was badly bruised after he says he was brutally beaten by Israeli police.

"They came and attacked me and then I went unconscious," said Tariq Khadeir.

Video shows the attack, some of which may be hard to watch. In it, you can clearly see officers violently kicking and pounding on Tariq. All because they say the 15-year-old was of throwing rocks at a protest in Jerusalem. Tariq was attending a demonstration there in retaliation for his Arabic cousin, who was recently murdered along with three other Israeli teens.

After being held on house arrest for nine days, Tariq's family is ready for him to return home to Tampa.

"The friends, the family we're going to be there just to welcome him and we're gonna treat him like a hero -- because he is a hero," said Swalem.


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