Fifteen-year-old Florida boy Tariq Abu Khdeir, who allegedly was beaten by Israeli police in Jerusalem, returned home to Florida late Wednesday, the bruises on his face much-faded but his attitude still suffering from the harsh attack.
"I am only 15, but I will never think about freedom in the same way," Tariq told the media gathered at the airport, The Baltimore Sun reported
. Along with his mother, the teen encouraged everyone to remember the children killed in the Israeli-Palestine violence.
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"They have names like mine," Tariq said. "No child, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli, deserves to die that way."
Tariq, who lived in Baltimore until he was 12 and then moved to Florida, said the beating was “the scariest thing that has happened to me,” the Sun said.
The teenager was visiting family in East Jerusalem last month when his cousin, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was kidnapped and burned to death along with two other teens. The death of the three boys escalated tension in the area and Tariq said he was watching protesters and police clash before his cousin’s funeral when he was arrested.
The Israeli police, though, have said the teen was not an “innocent bystander.”
“He was taking part in a mass demonstration attacking policemen," the Sun quoted an embassy statement. "He was masked, along with a knife-carrying group of six who threw petrol-bombs and Molotov cocktails at policemen."
Video of the incident shows police beating a masked person.
The Huffington Post said Tariq spoke only a few minutes at the airport,
telling those gathered that he “got through these past two weeks because I knew you were all thinking of me."
"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.
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