TAMPA (CBSMiami) — A Florida teen who was allegedly beaten by Israeli authorities then placed on house arrest arrived in Tampa Wednesday.
Tariq Abu Khdeir’s flight arrived just after 10:00 p.m. at Tampa International Airport.
“Thank you so much for coming out for me. Words can’t explain.. it feels so good to be back home in Tampa…to be back home with friends and go fishing,” said Khdeir.
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Family and friends of the the 15-year old Palestinian-American teen were anxious to see him return home and for those who mistreated him to be held accountable.
Tariq suffered head trauma, had bloodshot eyes, and had to receive stitches on his face,” said Hassan Shibly, the teen’s attorney and the executive director of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told a news conference earlier this month.
“There’s no justification for what happened,” he said.
The teen was in police custody in Israel. Authorities released him July 6th 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 denies that he participated in the protests.
Tariq’s father, who also is in Israel, told The Associated Press over the weekend that he recognized his son in a video of what he said was the beating. The U.S. State Department said it was “profoundly troubled” by reports that Tariq was beaten.
The Israeli justice ministry said an investigation has been opened into the footage.
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.
Shibly called the international incident a “watershed moment” for American-Israeli relations and called on the region to find peace.
“Let’s not play the blame game,” he said. “Let’s figure out how to stop it.”
Shibly said Tariq’s father has filed complaints with the Israeli government and met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Tariq is a good student who likes to play basketball, soccer and Xbox, friends and family said at a news conference. He went on a vacation to visit relatives he hadn’t seen in about 10 years — not to be part of a conflict, they said.
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