Nebraska Student Grounded in Israel Amid Violence

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LINCOLN, Neb.-- Tim Turnquist has spent the entire month of July in Israel, getting a first hand look at the violence and destruction of a conflict that has killed 657 Palestinians, and 31 Israelis, in the latest count.

Turnquist's trip was all part of a study abroad program. But, after rockets landed near the Tel Aviv airport, cancelling flights, he's been unable to punch his ticket home.

He said he's in a relatively safer part of Israel in Jerusalem. But, the sounds of battle can still be heard, even one day as he took in the sights at a local beach.

"First the sirens sounded," Turnquist said, "and everyone guided for a shelter, but, we didn't go inside.

"We stuck around to see what was going on in the sky. We saw two rockets coming and it looked like two jets."

Fortunately, those rockets exploded in the air. But, rocket sounds, explosions, and taking cover, have been part of an every day routine.

"It's become quite a common thing," Turnquist said.

"For me, I've struggled. My mental health has been on a decline. In Nebraska, you don't wake up to the threat of missiles and sirens every day."

Turnquist should've been home by late July. He's waiting to get on a plane home, but, said he's been able to stay in touch with family online.

"Being in a new culture, and language and completely isolated when something like this is happening," Turnquist said, "that ability to connect to people back home, family, brothers, it's been absolutely life-saving."

During his trip, Turnquist said he's had time to talk to both Israelis and Palestinians. He said one of the biggest misconceptions is that war is constantly happening. But, people are trying to live their every days lives, struggling with a conflict they may not be a part of.

"We should never single out one group and write them off," Turnquist said.

"We should always remember that there's a lot of humans and children here that are confused and looking for a normal day."

Turnquist said he should be able to get a plane home in early August, perhaps by Aug. 10. In the meantime, he said all he can do is sit, stay patient and be safe.