New Story Leadership brings Israeli, Palestinian students to D.C., seeking peace

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - As Israeli tanks and troops push deeper into Gaza and peace seems all but impossible, a group of Palestinian and Israeli students are in Washington with their nerves frayed, worried about family and friends.

Jerusalem resident Noa Shusterman, 26, served in the Israeli military and knows many who have been sent to the front line.

Civilian Palestinians have been warned they will be caught in the crossfire. Already 274 Palestinians have been killed. Officials say at least one fifth of the dead were children.

Nasreen Zaqout, 21, lives in Gaza. Her parents, her sister's family, and her younger brother are all there now. Each morning she calls home to try to make sure they are still alive.

"There's a lot of power outages, so sometimes you can't reach your family, and it's very worrisome to me to know that any minute, any second something could happen to my family," Zaquot says

New Story Leadership is a Maryland-based international organization that brings Israeli and Palestinian students to Washington each summer, with the idea that younger leaders can learn to bridge their differences.

Now Noa and Nasreen have become friends and can feel each other's fears.

"I could see panic in her eyes and I panicked," Shusterman says. "Now my 'enemy' is a person with needs and a family and worries and fears and it's a whole different scenario."