Palestinian boy with family in N.O. dies in war-torn homeland

A New Orleans father traveled thousands of miles to bury his teenage son in his Palestinian homeland.

Abdel Khalek moved to New Orleans years ago, but wanted his children to be raised in Israel's West Bank. His 14-year-old son, Orwah Khalek, died in the war-torn area on Friday. His body was hoisted in the streets of the family hometown of Silwad on Sunday.

The Israeli government claimed the boy hurled molotov cocktails at occupied troops. His family says he was throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers.

"Him and a bunch of kids were doing the same thing they do every week - throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers. That's the way they express frustration with the occupation," said Orwah's uncle, Hakeem, who owns an auto repair shop in Algiers.

He says Orwah visited New Orleans several times but was born in Silwada, a Palestinian village wedged between an Israeli settlement and an Israeli military base.

"He had a lot of goals. He wanted to be an electrical engineer when he grew up and just loved life," his uncle said. "He loved riding his moped, taking karate classes. All the kids in school loved him and he loved them. "

Flowers were placed on Orwah's empty desk, and his classmates were shaken by the loss.

"It's a beautiful place, but it's an unsettled place. You can see on the news there's always clashes because it's an unsettled place," Hakeem said.

The fight between Israelis and Palestinians seems as old as time, but tensions have been high since June, when Palestinian militants kidnapped three Israeli teens. The kidnappings set off a 50-day war in Gaza.

"It happens every single day," said Hakeem Khaled of the bloodshed. "This time it hits home."

He worries about the rest of Abdul's five children.

"He has his own family and makes his own decision. I just wish for his sake and the family's sake he decides to bring them here and get them away from that environment," Hakeem said.

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.