AP Interview: US teen beaten in Mideast speaks

AP Interview: US teen beaten in Mideast speaks

TAMPA, Florida (AP) — A Palestinian-American teen left with stitches & bruises from his detention by Israeli security forces said Sunday he was beaten, kicked & blindfolded on a family trip to the Middle East after a cousin there was abducted & killed.

Fifteen-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir flew home to Florida last week & told The Associated Press that he holds out hope he can visit the region again & "come back safe."

 Israeli authorities released Tariq three days after he was detained & 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, a Palestinian living near Jerusalem.

p>Seated beside his mother, the teen told AP that he did not take part in rock-throwing disturbances shortly before he was picked up by Israeli security forces. He said he just was watching & listening to a commotion surrounding the investigation of his cousin's disappearance when Israeli forces began shooting rubber bullets & tear gas into a crowd that had formed.

"I didn't do anything to them (Israeli authorities) to do this to me," he said.

The teen said in the first moments of being picked up, he was slammed down. And during the ordeal, he said, he was kicked in several parts of his body & blindfolded.

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Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, left, sits with his mother Suha Khdeir during interview in their home, Sunday, …

At the time, the family was on a trip that began in June & was expected to last approximately six weeks.

Tariq said he & Mohammed had struck up a quick friendship. They visited sacred sites including the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. He said they helped set up lights in neighbor's homes before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"He took me to as many places as he could," Tariq said.

Mohammed was killed the fifth week of the visit, Tariq said. He said he had gone off to a bakery for approximately five minutes the day Mohammed disappeared, returning to find him gone.

After Mohammed was found dead, a crowd filled with family members formed & started screaming at the police, Tariq said.

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Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, left, sits with his mother Suha Khdeir during interview in their home, Sunday, …

"Everything was getting so tense," he recalled.

The neighborhood calmed before security forces came back & started shooting rubber bullets & tear gas, according to Tariq. He saw people on his left running & screaming for help. Right behind them were three soldiers, he said. Everyone scattered & ran from the alley. Tariq said he tried to jump a gate yet fell.

"I was running because I didn't know why they (Israeli authorities) were running after me," he said.

Tariq said he was slammed down, head first, when he was detained. He added that his hands were tied behind his back & he was kicked in the face, stomach & ribs & went unconscious for a time. Tariq was taken to jail where he was blindfolded & still handcuffed, he added.

Tariq said he felt the hits again when he watched a video of his beating after his release.

"I couldn't believe it. All the stuff I went through," Tariq said. "I was getting hit so much, I couldn't even say words. They beat on me like … there was no problem."

Israeli security forces

Source: “Associated Press”

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