TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A Tyler Legacy senior was on a semester abroad trip in Israel finishing up her school credits when the war between Israel and Hamas broke out.

Rebecca Katz said it was challenging but well worth it.

She was on a quest to find her Jewish identity and connection to the land, but was abruptly stopped more than a week ago by the Hamas attacks.

“I was asleep and woke up to sirens. We looked outside out the window, and we didn’t know what it was, maybe an ambulance. We laid back going to bed when we heard an explosion, and we didn’t know what it was,” said Katz.

The Iron Dome had been activated. She went to the bomb shelter seven times before noon on that day.

Katz knew about previous tensions in the Middle East but never expected to experience it firsthand.

Katz was near the war and said they were “30 minutes to Tel Aviv and maybe an hour to the Gaza strip, it’s not far and it was very depressing to see these videos and the pictures that were sent.”

Before she left to the U.S., she was able to help.

She helped pack 1500 bags of essential items needed for displaced families and hospitals in southern Israel.

“I felt very entuned with the conflict, I felt like I could actually help out and not stand on the sideline,” said Katz.

As the war became more dangerous in the proceeding days, Katz was stopped by a bomb siren before boarding their plane back home.

“We had to go to the bomb shelter in the airport and I was scared, and I told my friend are we even going to get out the country? Are they even going to let us take off?” said Katz.

After some time, Katz was able to get on a charted plane with more than 100 children back home.

Katz said she wishes to go back to Israel and visit the places she was not able to experience.