TAMPA, Fla. — A Palestinian-American teen left with stitches and bruises from his detention by Israeli security forces said in an interview Sunday that he hopes to return one day without incident to the Middle East, where he was beaten while visiting relatives.
Fifteen-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir flew home to Tampa last week and told The Associated Press from his home in Florida that he hopes one day to visit loved ones anew and “come back safe.”
Israeli authorities released Tariq three days after he was detained and sentenced him to nine days of house arrest while they investigated what they said was his participation in violent protests over the death of his cousin, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir.
Seated with his mother beside him in his home, the teen recalled his ordeal and said he didn’t take part in rock-throwing disturbances before he was picked up by Israeli security forces. He said he just was watching and listening to a commotion surrounding the investigation of the disappearance of his cousin when Israeli forces began shooting rubber bullets and tear gas into a crowd that had formed.
“I didn’t do anything to them (Israeli authorities) to do this to me,” he said.
And he added he hoped one day to be able to return to see relatives safely and get home without problems.
“If I want to see my family members I hope I can,” he said, adding “I don’t want to have any problems with anybody.”