teen detained in Israeli-Palestinian conflict returns home
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[July 17, 2014]
By Letitia Stein
TAMPA Fla (Reuters) - A Florida teenager
who was detained in Israel and apparently beaten by police returned home
on Wednesday, eager to seek medical care and put behind him a summer
trip that drew renewed world attention to the Israeli-Palestinian
Tariq Khdeir, 15, was greeted by cheering relatives, friends and
media at Tampa International Airport. He said he felt good, while
bruises on his face that had spurred a probe into complaints that he
was beaten while in Israeli police custody, were significantly
Calling his attack by masked police "the scariest thing that has
happened to me," Khdeir told reporters he believes his story drew
outrage largely because he was a U.S. citizen.
"You only know my story because I am an American," he said. "I am
only 15, but I will never think about freedom in the same way," he
A high school student at a private Islamic school in Tampa, Khdeir
was vacationing in Jerusalem with his parents and younger sisters on
a summer trip to visit their Palestinian relatives.
He was arrested during protests after his cousin, Mohammed Abu
Khudair, 16, was abducted and killed in early July, sparking calls
from Palestinians for a new uprising against Israel.
The Maryland-born teenager's homecoming follows his release from
house arrest in Israel, where an investigation into his treatment by
police is continuing.
Khdeir has said he was not involved in clashes with police prior to
his detention along with five other protesters.
Friends and relatives in Florida awaiting his return were anxious
for him to be evaluated by U.S. doctors. Khdeir's father complained
that Israeli officers denied his son proper medical treatment after
they beat him.
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Khdeir looks forward to returning to school and going fishing with
his friends, he told reporters.
He and his mother asked supporters to remember all the children
killed in recent weeks during the resurgent Israeli-Palestinian
"They have names like mine," Khdeir said. "No child, whether they
are Palestinian or Israeli, deserves to die that way."
(Editing by David Adams and Clarence Fernandez)
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