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The Palestinian-American teen who was allegedly bady beaten by Israeli authorities during outrage over the suspected revenge killing of his cousin returned home to Florida Wednesday, calling the ordeal “the scariest thing that ever happened to me.”

"I am only 15 but I will never think about freedom the same as I did two months ago," Tariq Abu Khdeir said upon arrival at Tampa International Airport. "No child, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli, deserves to die [in] that way."

Tariq said he was brutally beaten by Israeli security forces after he was apprehended during protests over the murder of his cousin, in what Palestinians are calling a revenge attack in retaliation over the murders of three Israeli teens. The murders on both sides inflamed tensions and led to militant rocket attacks and Israeli airstrikes in Gaza that have killed more than 200 Palestinians.

Tariq and his mother flew back to Tampa on a flight arriving from New York and were greeted by about 50 cheering supporters waving American and Palestinian flags Wednesday. The Khdeirs had flown out of Israel earlier in the day.


— Phil Helsel

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.