Palestinian-American teen allegedly beaten by Israeli police returns home

Florida teenager Tariq Khdeir, 15, smiles while surrounded by family members after his arrival from Israel at Tampa airport, Florida July 16, 2014. SCOTT AUDETTE, REUTERS

TAMPA, Fla. -- A Palestinian-American teen who was allegedly beaten by Israeli security forces returned to cheers at Tampa International Airport late Wednesday.

"It feels so good to be back in Tampa," said 15-year-old Tariq Khdeir, "and I can't wait to go fishing with my friends."

The teen told supporters that their prayers had gotten him through his ordeal, CBS affiliate WTSP reported.

He then asked people to remember his cousin, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was abducted outside his home in east Jerusalem earlier this month and killed. An autopsy showed the 16-year-old boy had been burned alive.

Six Israelis have been arrested in the killing, and an Israeli official has said three of the suspects have confessed to killing the Palestinian boy in revenge for the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers, one of whom had dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship.

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Tariq Khdeir is greeted by his mother after being released from jail in Jerusalem July 6, 2014.
REUTERS

Tariq Khdeir has said he was viciously beaten by Israeli security forces when he got caught up in violent protests over his cousin's death earlier this month. His family denies he was participating in the protests.

Video from the riot shows Israeli security forces punching and kicking a bound Palestinian. The victim lies prone on the ground. After the initial beating, soldiers carry him away, pausing for another kick to the head before lining him up for arrest. Khdeir's parents have said he is the victim shown in the video.

"They picked me up and dropped me on my head, and started beating me, brutally," Khdeir told CBS News correspondent Alex Ortiz.

He described his face being kicked and punched.

"They didn't stop. They were carrying me and still kicking me and punching me, even when I was unconscious."

The teen was released from Israeli police custody on July 6 and sentenced to nine days of house arrest.

The Israeli Justice Ministry said an investigation has been opened into the video.

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