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Local Palestinian-Americans Visit Embattled Region For Annual Convention

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The First Coast is home to one of the largest Palestinian-American communities in the country. Just before tensions recently broke out in Gaza, several area residents visited the region.New volleys of rockets whizzed toward Israel’s major cities Wednesday,  just as Israel stepped up its air bombardment of Gaza. The rising Palestinian death toll, and increased international alarm, suggests Israel will not have the leeway for a large-scale military operation against Hamas.

The tensions began to escalate after three Israeli teens were kidnapped and later found dead. Then it was reported a Palestinian teen had been burned alive by Israelis.

A Tampa teenager of Palestinian descent, Tariq Abu Khdeir, made international headlines the other day, after being severely beaten by Israeli police.

Against this backdrop, dozens of Jacksonville residents recently traveled to the region for the 56th annual Ramallah American Convention.

Sammy Batteh, president of the Ramallah American Club of Jacksonville, joined Melissa Ross to discuss the trip and the current conflict.

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax.

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.