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In April 2012, I visited the West Bank with the Tree of Life Journey (tolef.org).
I stayed with the Awad family in Beit Sahour. Cristina, their daughter, is my age (17). We danced and laughed at her cousin's engagement party. I taught them all how to dance the macarena, and that night was full of smiles. Cristina and Tamer Awad could be my siblings. They were not terrorists.
Now I fear for Palestinians in Gaza. Teens face homelessness as Israel rains missiles on them. Gaza is only one-third the size of New London County yet it has 1.6 million people. Teens in Gaza don't have an Iron Dome to protect them like the teens in Israel. Israel has bombed U.N. safe houses and schools.
I can't help but think back to the friends I made in Palestine. Before the war, some Gazans were smiling, maybe even going to engagement parties and dancing. Now their loved ones may be dead and their families shattered. Please, I beg Israel to cease fire and lift the blockade. I implore Hamas to stop shelling Israeli citizens. And for God sake, American citizens, must stop funding this terrible war by providing Israel $8.5 million in military aid each day.