West Michigan students return from Israel amid conflict

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- The conflict between Israel and Hamas almost kept a group of West Michigan students from returning home.

Christian Reformed World Missions sent a team, which included students from Calvin and Hope colleges, to Israel and Palestine for five weeks.

They managed to board one of of the last flights out of Tel Aviv before the FAA banned U.S. flights to or from Ben Gurion Airport because of rocket fire.

RELATED: FAA bans U.S. airlines from Israel over rocket threat

After hours in flight, the students arrived in West Michigan late Tuesday afternoon and shared some of what they learned about daily life in Israel and the West Bank.

"When you go in and meet families that have just experienced violence, and you can see that it's still affecting them and their way life you know -- I mean, these are just civilians -- that has changed a lot for me," said Sarah Hamm. "It's become a lot more personal."

"It's a lot more complex," Mariano Avila added. "It's not just Israel versus Palestine; there's different factions inside Israeli society, there's different factions inside Palestinian society -- not all of them are violent, not all of them are at war, and I think we really have to nuance our understanding of what's going on over there."

The Hope Equals team sent by Christian Reformed World Missions included seven people. They worked to support peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.


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