I live in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, with my parents. This is where I’ll be until I get married. This is the rule! I’m ok with it though as I love my parents.

I heard about Musalaha from my teacher who said, “You need to go and meet these people and make friends.” So I went to Cyprus with a women’s group as a babysitter for their children. They were really nice. When they talked to me they showed real love and care. Even the Israeli women, I saw that there was peace in their hearts even though there is a huge conflict between us. They just showed us that they love and care for us and that they pray for us. It was really amazing to see.

I then went to Berlin with the Young Adults for a week. It was really great. We had a lot of fun. We talked about Palestine and the struggle. Everything. I was so nervous as I thought that the Israelis wouldn’t treat me well because I am Palestinian. You know what they think about Palestinians – that we hate them and are going to do something bad to them. But even though I thought this, I got the complete opposite. They were so nice and kind. There was something between us and I still talk to them today.

We were really honest with each other in Berlin. We read and discussed reports about the war in Gaza. Even though Israel was shooting us, I know that we need to pray for our enemies and love them. But for me, at that time, I couldn’t pray for them, I couldn’t even love them. I wanted our people to have freedom. 

It was hard to see children dying in Gaza every day. I used to cry. So I was honest with the Israelis and told them, “You are happy with your normal life. You have a place to go while these children are dying. We  have no place to go.” But then I saw that it wasn’t their fault. It is their government. These guys are like us. They have cousins and brothers who were also dying.

I prayed for forgiveness. I wanted to forgive them for what they had done to our people. I told them everything and that I loved them all. When I was talking, my voice was shaking and I was about to cry. They hugged me and one of the girls started to cry, saying that two of her brothers serve in the army and that she was always scared, and that she didn’t want to lose them. They are humans just like us. They have feelings just like us.

I want our relationships to stay strong. Even though we have our problems, the most important thing is that we keep talking. And that no matter what we stay to each other, the relationship won’t shake. We are building a good thing. I want to love them, in the way I speak and treat them.

I have changed a lot. I wasn’t like this three years ago. I have changed in my heart, the way I think, act and love people. I am a new Hasnaa. I feel peace in my heart and now I just want to pray for God’s will for my life. 

It’s not easy. Sometimes I don’t feel very hopeful at all as the situation is getting worse. I pray that God gives us a solution. I think sometimes I want to leave the country and never come back. I have studied for five years and can’t even find a job. 

Musalaha gives people a chance to build relationships with the other side. It gives us something good. I love what they are doing, and their heart for bringing us together. 

*Hasnaa’s name has been changed for confidentiality reasons.