CARY, N.C. (WTVD) --UNC sophomore Morgan Bush spent 10 days in Israel. She made the trip to learn more about the country's history and culture. What she left with is a unique view of an ongoing conflict watched closely around the world.
"We were a little scared at times especially because we don't deal with that in America," said Bush. "We did encounter sirens when we were in Jerusalem towards the end of my trip. There were some sirens and we had to be in bomb shelters a couple times."
As a young Jewish woman, she says it was her time to visit Israel.
"It's important to realize that like there are things that are happening there, but they're happening all the time for the Israelis," she said.
On her second day in the country, her tour group and the rest of the world learned three Israeli teenagers had been murdered. The brutal killing of a Palestinian teen was to follow.
For her mother Lori back home in Cary, there was no rest.
"Although she had an armed guard and all the soldiers with her, that can't help from a rocket that falls from the air," said Lori Bush.
A visit to the Western Wall was interrupted by sounds of explosions that someone in her group tried to write off as fireworks. The group's planned visit to an area in south Jerusalem was cancelled due to riots. But Bush never stopped exploring, making new Israeli friends who were about her age; all of them are serving in the military.
"We connected over like music, and relationships, and friendships and food and things like that that are so just common, but... it was very shocking to sort of see that they had to leave to go fight," said Bush.
Earlier this week, ABC11 talked with another UNC-Chapel Hill student who is getting a different view of the conflict.
"There are lynch mobs going around attacking people just for being Palestinian or Arab," explained Maggie Walker during an interview via FaceTime.
Walker is currently living in Ramallah in the West Bank, teaching SAT prep courses to Palestinian students.
"It's very hard for me because the students that I work with, I feel that... I don't feel unsafe here but I know that they, just coming to and from school, are way more in danger than I am," she said. "And I don't ever see coverage of that. And that's been sort of the hardest for me."
Walker will return home to Philadelphia at the end of July.
No matter where they've been, these young Americans say their experiences in the Middle East have been eye-opening. They now hope for one thing, peace.
"I hope for peace but it's hard to say," explained Bush. "I hope that my friends who I've made and all of their friends are safe."
Bush flew out of Tel Aviv Thursday. On Friday, Hamas launched four rockets at the airport; all of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile defense.
Also on Friday, a grim milestone was reached in Israel's offensive; 100 Palestinians have been killed since the air campaign began.
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