The family of the Tampa teen being held on house arrest in Israel after he was beaten by Israeli policemen are demanding his immediate return to Tampa so he can get proper medical care.
"This is a child. He is an American child," said his aunt, Sanah Abu Khdeir. "This child should not have to go through this, and neither should any child. Israeli Palestinian, we are not being political, we are being human."
At the mosque he attends, the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay, friends are shocked.
They say the games and get-togethers are not the same since video of Khdeir being beaten by policemen in Jerusalem was seen all over the world.
"It kind of almost started making me tear up," said Yunus Buffins, a friend.
Buffins is amongst Tariq's best friends, and has fishing pics to prove it.
"He killed me at fishing, man," Buffins said.
"When we see these pictures of his face, and all these beatings, and videos, it hits us," said friend Bilal Aslan.
Khdeir was beaten during a trip to visit family in Jerusalem.
During that trip, his cousin was killed by a group of Israeli vigilantes in retaliation for the death of three Jewish teens who were found in the West Bank.
The mid-east cycle of violence has hit his family twice.
"It's unbelievable what we are going through,” said Abu Khdeir.
The American government is leaning on the Israelis to follow through on promises of an investigation.
The teen is serving a nine-day house arrest sentence as Israeli spokespeople say he resisted arrest and helped attack police during the protest of his cousin's death.
Family denied that today, insisting he was sought out by angry Israeli soldiers.
"We're just so happy he's in his mother's arms right now, it's giving us a little bit of peace. We'll be 100 percent at ease when he's actually here and can get immediate medical attention," said another aunt, Suhad Abu Khdeir.
Friends want him back too, saying the popular athlete and funny classmate with a humble disposition, belongs volunteering with them at their mosque, and not in the middle of an international incident.
"If I could talk to him, I'd tell him to be safe and come back as soon as possible," said Yunus. "I want too fishing with him again. I really miss him."
Family is especially concerned about the beatings Tariq sustained to his head.The Council on American-Islamic relations says they are expected statements from high-ranking American officials soon.?
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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