“Hello everybody. Thank you so much for coming out tonight to welcome me home. It feels so good to be back in Tampa. I cannot even put it in words. I can’t wait to go back to play with my friends and go fishing. I got through these past two weeks because I know you were all thinking of me, praying for me and sending me messages to support me.
“There’s one main thing that I wanted to say, which is that you will only know my story because I’m an American. But I hope you will also remember my cousin, a sixteen-year-old Palestinian named Mohammed Abu Khdeir. He was just a kid like me and this whole thing started because he was killed. I know he must have been terrified like I was. I was in a new place and suddenly attacked by masked police. It was by far the scariest thing that has ever happened to me. The physical pain in those first hours was really rough. And I’m only fifteen but I’ll never think about freedom in the same way as I did two [weeks] ago.
“I wanted to ask you all to please remember my cousin Mohammed and the thirty-six kids that died in Gaza over the past several days. They have names like mine. I hope the violence will stop for their sake. No child, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli, deserves to die that way.
“I’m so glad to be back home again and healing. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. I feel really good. I feel great.”