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For Israeli Blogger, Conflict Spurs Mixed Emotions

For the past year, two men — one Israeli, one Palestinian — have been blogging about their lives on opposite sides of the Israeli-Gaza border.

Israeli Eric Yellin calls himself Hope Man. The Palestinian, who does not give his real name because of safety concerns, goes by Peace Man.

Yellin, who manages a computer software company in Sderot, Israel, says he heard from his Palestinian friend Tuesday morning for the first time since the weekend.

"I received an SMS (text message) from him after three days," Yellin tells Melissa Block. "Not hearing anything, I was pretty worried because I stopped hearing from him right after the ground incursion by the Israeli forces into Gaza."

Yellin says Peace Man lives in an area of Gaza where there are militants.

"Just recently, he said that if ever this area were attacked, there would be great danger for many people there," he says.

Yellin says his perception of the conflict between the two sides has been shaped by his relationship with Peace Man.

"As soon as I started meeting people — either in person or over the phone or over e-mail — it created a real connection and understanding that on the other side of the border there are people who are exactly like us," he says.

He says Peace Man has told him he feels the same way.

"For him, it was the first time ever to meet an Israeli. For him, they were always the enemy, always the oppressor, and it took a while to create trust even between the two of us," Yellin says. "And I think that over time, we've really become friends, and there is full and complete trust. I trust him with my life and, I think, vice versa."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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