Teen victim of beating in Israel returns to US

Teen victim of beating in Israel returns to US

The Palestinian-American teenager said to have been savagely beaten by Israeli authorities has returned home to Florida, saying he will never think of freedom in the same way again.

Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, and his mother were greeted in Tampa by about 50 cheering supporters waving American and Palestinian flags.

“I am only 15 but I will never think of freedom the same as I did two months ago,” Tariq said at Tampa International Airport. “No child, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli, deserves to die.”

The teenager said the thoughts and prayers of the supporters had helped him, adding: “I got through these past two weeks because I knew you were all thinking of me.”

Now, he said, he just wanted time with friends and to relax. “It feels so good to be back in Tampa. Can I even put it in words? I can’t wait to go back to play with my friends and go fishing,” he added.

Hassan Shibly, the boy’s lawyer and executive director of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Tariq suffered head trauma and needed stitches on his face when beaten two weeks ago as he was arrested during a protest.

Supporters say Tariq’s beating was videotaped and the Israeli justice ministry has said an investigation has been opened into the footage.

There were no immediately apparent signs of injuries to Tariq on his arrival.

Israeli authorities released Tariq shortly after his arrest and sentenced him to nine days of house arrest while they investigated what they say was his participation in violent protests over the death of his cousin, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir. His family denied he took part.

Palestinians suspect Mohammed Abu Khdeir was killed by Israeli extremists exacting revenge for the abduction and killings of three Israeli teens in the West Bank last month.

His mother, Suha Khdeir, said in Tampa that the last two weeks had been a “nightmare”. She wiped tears from her eyes and added she was “grateful” for the support she received at home.

“I cannot begin to describe to you the pain I felt when I looked at his face for the first time after that beating,” she said.

Friends and family have said Tariq went on holiday to visit relatives he had not seen in about 10 years – not to be part of a conflict. They have described him as a good student who likes basketball, soccer and video games.

Tariq’s arrest happened shortly before Israel attacked Gaza to stop Hamas members from launching rockets into its territory.

More in this Section

The 'best person to unite our party': Sadiq Khan backs Keir Starmer in UK Labour leadership raceThe 'best person to unite our party': Sadiq Khan backs Keir Starmer in UK Labour leadership race

Coronavirus: BBC presenter in 'self-isolation' after returning from ski tripCoronavirus: BBC presenter in 'self-isolation' after returning from ski trip

Coronavirus patient dies in Paris hospitalCoronavirus patient dies in Paris hospital

Nespresso launches probe into allegations of child labour on its coffee farmsNespresso launches probe into allegations of child labour on its coffee farms


Lifestyle

From ocean-safe sunscreen to underwater camera casing, these items will make water-based holidays more enjoyable.Dive into a whole new world with this essential underwater kit

You can’t beat eggs at all hours. It’s a fact.Things you only know if breakfast food for dinner is your thing

More From The Irish Examiner