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Local Israeli, Palestinian Americans react to Middle East crisis

Reported by: Fatima Rahmatullah
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Updated: 7/26 12:22 am

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Israeli and Palestinian Americans are divided on an acceptable solution to the centuries-old conflict.

News 3 talked to an Israeli and a Palestinian family who live in Las Vegas and have relatives in the Middle East. They both agree about the need for peace. Exactly how to achieve peace is the problem.

“Shortly [after] the three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped, it was absolutely horrible," said Alex Khalaf.

A fourth generation Palestinian-American, Khalaf was visiting his family in Gaza two and a half weeks ago. He says it was disturbing to hear Israeli and U.S. leaders blaming Hamas within 24 hours of the kidnappings that kicked off the conflict.

To this day there has not been any evidence of Hamas being linked to these kidnappings.

While in Gaza, Khalaf and his family say they witnessed brutal home invasions.

He says 550 Palestinians were arrested. Most arrests happened in the middle of the night. The charges, if any, were unknown.

“They would come in around 2 to 6 a.m. so at night my daughter, this was the first summer she was afraid, and she said are they going to come get us,” Fahima Khalaf said.

Amir Edin was in Israel when the kidnappings took place and rockets began dropping on his homeland.

The regional director of the Israeli American consulate just returned from visiting family.

"My parents live in a new building, so there's a secure room already built there," Edin said.

Edin says so-called secure rooms can be found in new apartments.

They are a safe haven in the event the Israeli government's "Iron Dome" missile intercept system fails to knock out a rocket fired from Gaza.

“We’re talking about thousands of rockets. Each one of the rocket is launched at a base because you can't guide a rocket. It’s just you're launching it to the other side, trying in their ways to hurt as many civilians,” Edin said.

According to the United Nations, more than 800 Palestinians and about three dozen Israelis have died since July 8.

"From the 800 declare Palestinians dead, how many have you heard once saying that 150 of them were terrorists, 200, 300, 500?" Edin said.

Edin says the Israeli military warns Palestinian civilians to evacuate, but Khalaf says the warnings come too late and in Gaza there's nowhere for people to go.

“It's a 140 square miles and one of the most densely populated pieces of land in the world. To the south there's a sealed border with Egypt and to the north there's a sealed border with Israel. To the east there's an 18-foot tall security wall and to the west there's an ocean,” Alex Khalaf said.

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