The Palestinian American teen from Tampa, beaten and arrested by Israeli soldiers is speaking out for the first time today, after being released into the arms of his family.
"I was standing, watching the protest. There were two, three specialized cops with equipment. And they were coming; running at me. They punched me, they kicked me, they kicked me in my face. They made sure I wasn't able to see anything. I wasn't even breathing."
And right here in Tampa, victim supporters gathered for Tariq and his 16-year-old cousin, Mohammed Abukhdeir who was burned to death.
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The family and supporters gathered to mourn the death of one family member and pray for the survival and safe return of another.
"He is only 15 - he is a baby - a child. This is unjust. The swelling and medical attention is abnormal and he needs medical attention," said Tariq Abukhdeir's cousin, Sanah.
Tariq Abukhdeir is just 15-years-old and from Tampa. He was allegedly brutally beaten by Israeli soldiers. And it was all allegedly caught on camera.
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"His family hadn't visited Jerusalem or Israel in over ten years - Tariq is a smart man, wouldn't hurt a fly..." said cousin Abdel Abukhdeir.
"He is unrecognizable; face, body swollen - brutally beat - what can you do - we cant do anything," said Sanah.
Family says the attack happened after the boy's cousin Mohammed AbuKhdeir was kidnapped and reportedly burned alive.
"I felt disgusted - wished I could do something about it as a Palestinian. This is not an isolated incident - just the one that took the world stage."
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Also on the world stage - a crisis, decades old. "It happens daily, weekly, monthly this goes on and on for 66 years," said one family member.
"When we do protest, they respond with bullets and beatings. We need justice and peace - the whole Middle East is in turmoil - only America can make a difference," said Abdel.
"Tonight I will pray, for the Palestinian children and make sure America knows we need my nephew home," said the family.
Tariq is under house arrest but family hopes he'll be getting proper medical treatment. They are anxiously waiting to be reunited next week.
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