American teen beaten in Mideast returns to Florida - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

American teen beaten in Mideast returns to Florida

Posted: Updated:
By JARED LEONE
Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - The Palestinian-American teenager who relatives say was beaten by Israeli authorities returned home to Florida late Wednesday, saying he will never think of freedom in the same way again.

Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, and his mother flew back to Tampa on a flight arriving from New York and were greeted by about 50 cheering supporters waving American and Palestinian flags. The Khdeirs had flown out of Israel earlier in the day.

"I am only 15 but I will never think of freedom the same as I did two months ago," Tariq said upon arrival 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 some relaxation and time with friends. "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, speaking only minutes.

Hassan Shibly, the teen's attorney and the executive director of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, had said Monday that Tariq suffered head trauma and had to receive stitches on his face when beaten two weeks ago as he was arrested during a protest. Supporters say Tariq's beating was videotaped. The Israeli justice ministry has said an investigation has been opened into the footage.

There were no immediately apparent signs of injuries to Khdeir 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 Tariq's cousin, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir. His family denied that he participated in the protests. 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 Wednesday in Tampa that the last two weeks had been a "nightmare." She wiped tears from her eyes as she spoke and added she was "grateful" for the support she received at home in the Tampa area.

"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 a vacation to visit relatives he hadn't 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. Earlier Wednesday, Israel and Hamas agreed to a five-hour U.N. brokered "humanitarian" pause to their 9-day-long battle, offering the most encouraging sign yet that the fierce fighting could come to an end. Israel's bombardment of Gaza has killed more than 200 Palestinians, including four boys struck on a beach Wednesday by shells fired from a navy ship.

The attorney Shibly said Monday that a complaint has been filed with the Israeli government by the teen's father.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • U.S. & World NewsMore>>

  • Bodies of Malaysia jet victims to leave Ukraine

    Bodies of Malaysia jet victims to leave Ukraine

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 3:43 AM EDT2014-07-23 07:43:44 GMT
    Ukraine is preparing a departure ceremony for the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines disaster, which are being flown to the Netherlands.More >>
    Ukraine prepared a departure ceremony for the bodies of Malaysia Airlines passengers and crew who became victims of fighting raging far below them on the plains of eastern Ukraine.More >>
  • Agents get subsidized 'Obamacare' using fake IDs

    Agents get subsidized 'Obamacare' using fake IDs

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 3:36 AM EDT2014-07-23 07:36:44 GMT
    Congress will hear testimony Wednesday detailing how undercover investigators used fake identities to get taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama's law.More >>
    Undercover investigators using fake identities were able to secure taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law.More >>
  • House, Senate chart separate courses on border

    House, Senate chart separate courses on border

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 3:36 AM EDT2014-07-23 07:36:24 GMT
    Senate Democrats and House Republicans are moving separately to slash President Barack Obama's $3.7 billion emergency spending request for the southern border, but they're unlikely to end up with a deal...More >>
    Senate Democrats and House Republicans are moving separately to slash President Barack Obama's $3.7 billion emergency spending request for the border, but they're unlikely to end up with a deal that could pass both...More >>
Powered by WorldNow

News Channel 25 KXXV-TV
P.O. Box 2522
Waco, TX 76702

Phone Numbers:
Main: 254-754-2525
Tip Line: 254-757-2525

Links
Contact Us
KXXV Employment Opportunites
FCC Filings
Advertise on KXXV

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KXXV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.