From NE Philly to the West Bank

Ozzy Khalil leaves his home and business in Philadelphia every summer to return with his family to the West Bank village where he was born.

23 photos
1/23
Jim Rosenfield
Ozzy Khalil leaves his home and business in Philadelphia every summer to return with his family to the West Bank village where he was born.
2/23
Karen Araiza
We came to Ein Yabrud on Saturday to spend time with Ozzy, who lives in NE Philadelphia with his wife and two children and owns two pizza places in North Philly and Olney called Ozzy's Pizza Shops.
3/23
Karen Araiza
In his living room in this West Bank village, Ozzy tells us this is the 10th straight summer he's returned home, and tensions are worse right now than any other time he can recall.
4/23
Karen Araiza
Our driver, Taha (L) is also Palestinian. He and Ozzy, who met for the first time, shared coffee and opinions on the current crisis.
5/23
Karen Araiza
Ozzy has four children -- two boys and two girls -- who range in age from 5- to 15-years-old. The kids have a unique perspective because back home in Philadelphia, their neighbors and dear friends are Israeli.
6/23
Karen Araiza
His two middle children are dear friends with their Israeli neighbors, Ozzy says. They play together nearly every day on a block in NE Philly where childhood games and laughter haven't been lost to the war.
7/23
Karen Araiza
His 9-year-old daughter, however, told us she has been scared to leave her house in Ein Yabrud this summer after hearing that victims in Gaza included children.
8/23
Karen Araiza
His 9-year-old daughter decided to skip a family wedding that her grandmother (L) and other relatives attended this weekend once she realized it was in an area much closer to the front lines of the conflict.
9/23
Karen Araiza
Ozzy took us on a tour of his village to show us what he means when he talks about how Palestinians "don't even have freedom" in their own neighborhoods. Right here, he points down to a major road that he won't travel on, or even stand on, he says, because it's controlled by Israelis.
10/23
Karen Araiza
He likened the road to I-95, explaining that a trip to the next town should take five minutes, but it takes 45 because Palestinians don't have the same access to some major roads.
11/23
Karen Araiza
Back in the heart of his village, where the Palestinian flag is proudly flown, there is one main road.
12/23
Karen Araiza
To get out of town on that road, you have to pass through a military checkpoint.
13/23
Karen Araiza
This local driver was forced out of his car while Israeli soldiers searched everything in the car.
14/23
Karen Araiza
In the center of town, this is the hangout for men -- a coffee and grocery store that Ozzy says is like the Dunkin' Donuts of Ein Yabrud.
15/23
Karen Araiza
It's popular for the type of coffee served.
16/23
Karen Araiza
American coffee. Kroger brand.
17/23
Karen Araiza
We stopped in for a cup. Ozzy said the chance of running into other people from the tri-state area was good since the village is home for primarily Palestinians who live and work in America but usually spend their summers here.
18/23
Karen Araiza
The men we met in the village were friendly and just like people we visited with in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem -- passionate and often vehement in their opinions about the war.
19/23
Karen Araiza
The news is always on just about everywhere. Jim Rosenfield and Ozzy turned around to see a news update announcing the latest on the Israeli soldier who'd been reported kidnapped and casualty number for victims in Gaza, which stood this day at approximately 1,600 killed.
20/23
Karen Araiza
Outside the store, where the men gathered, we met a man from Brooklyn, far left.
21/23
Karen Araiza
And Wally, a businessman vacationing from Delaware, said he was both surprised and happy to see a local television crew. He told us when we asked him if he had second thoughts about coming, that he will always come back home, no matter what happens.
22/23
Karen Araiza
Looking out over Ein Yabrud and other villages as well as the Jewish settlements, Ozzy too said he will return again. And again. "This is my home. I love it here."
23/23
Karen Araiza
"All we want is to live in peace. We want to live freely like they do." -- Ozzy Khalil, NE Philly businessman from the West Bank
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