Israel-Hamas War

Suburban Chicago teen returns home from studying abroad amid Israel-Hamas war

“I didn’t know what was happening," said Josh Jury. I never heard anything like it.”

From his luggage to what he experienced, Josh Jury has some unpacking to do.

“I keep a journal, and I write in it a lot,” he said.

A senior at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Jury just returned from Israel.

“It is good to be home. It’s honestly been a really stressful last five days,” he said. “I know I'm unsafe here. But it still doesn't feel right after feeling kind of on edge and unsafe for so long.”

The high school student had been in Israel since August studying abroad.

Almost a week ago, he was with classmates in downtown Jerusalem celebrating a Jewish holiday when sirens started and they were ushered into a bomb shelter.

“I didn’t know what was happening. I never heard anything like it,” he said. “I actually found out from my mom because she texted me saying you know what’s happening right now?…Then I finally saw the news headlines pop up.”

They were evacuated and taken back to campus about 20 minutes north of Tel Aviv.

There, the students continued to hear the sounds of war.

“It was extremely stressful,” he said. “There's this app. It's like the Red Alert app and it's like an Israeli security app and whenever a missile got nearer to our location, you'd start having these popups on your phone where your phone is just buzzing, buzzing, buzzing. Then all of a sudden it was saying like missiles are getting closer and then the sirens go off. Everyone starts to run. And then you can actually hear the Iron Dome system intercepting the missiles above our heads.”

Their classes were cancelled, so Jury and his classmates turned their focus to humanitarian aid. They assembled 1,500 care packages and started an online fundraiser.

Josh now wants to pursue a career in international relations – with a focus on diplomacy.

He also hopes to one day return to Israel, the place that feels like home to him.

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