Three cousins arrested with the U.S. teenager during clashes in
east Jerusalem are still in jail, while Khdeir is free to think
about the start of a new school year and make plans to go fishing
back home in a quiet, gated subdivision in Florida.
The bruises on his face that drew international media attention have
largely faded, although he suffers painful headaches that have not
yet been fully evaluated by doctors.
"I am not scared, but I am mad," the 15-year-old high school student
told Reuters at his family's tidy town home in Tampa, where his
honor roll certificate decorates the kitchen fridge.
"I just got a taste of it," he added. "There are still people back
there going through worse than me."
The Maryland-born teenager was caught up in the escalating
Israeli-Palestinian violence after his cousin, Mohammed Abu Khudair,
16, was abducted and killed in early July.
Khdeir said he was not participating in protests before his arrest.
He had jumped a fence to avoid a police raid, but said he got caught
and pinned down by Israeli police officers, who tied his hands and
beat him until he was unconscious.
Khdeir awoke in a hospital, confused by the Hebrew spoken, and spent
four days in an Israeli jail before being released under house
arrest with the help of U.S. state officials.
His mother, Suha Khdeir, 36, said her Palestinian relatives could
not understand why her son's story received so much attention, when
it seemed to them such a common experience.
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"I felt like I lost my freedom over there," she said, recalling
explaining with embarrassment that her son was considered important
because he was a U.S. citizen.
She has not yet been able to watch the full video of the teen,
identified by relatives as Khdeir, being beaten. The tape helped to
stoke the outcry over his treatment, which is under investigation by
Tariq Khdeir, who said he has watched the video many times, still
wants to return to the region.
"I want to go back so bad," he said. "I miss everybody there."
(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Andrea Ricci)
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