In a video published last week showing the abduction of five IDF lookouts by Hamas terrorists, one of the soldiers could be heard pleading with her captures, saying she has "friends in Palestine." In an interview with NBC News, the soldier's mother explained the apparent background of that remark.

Speaking to NBC News, Ayelet Levy-Shachar, the mother of Naama Levy, said her daughter had participated in Hands of Peace, a now-defunct US-based initiative promoting dialogue between young Palestinians and Israelis.

“She always had a great passion for bridging between people and communities and for speaking up, hearing the other side,” she said of her daughter in a phone interview with the American news agency.

According to the hostage's mother, Levy joined a Hands of Peace summer program in San Diego, California, in 2022, driven by her aspiration to enter the world of diplomacy.

According to the report, "The program brought Israeli, Palestinian, and American teens together in a bid to promote dialogue and empower them to become 'agents of change' in the bitter and long-lasting conflict."

“They sat together and spoke to each other, which is, you know, revolutionary, and was very hard. But still, they could do it,” said Levy-Shachar.

Hands of Peace founder Gretchen Grad told NBC News that she had never met Levy personally, but that colleagues remembered her as a “bright, engaged and outgoing” young woman during her time participating in the summer program.

According to Grad, the organization did not have an “educational agenda,” but it did “recognize that occupation exists." She said the program sought to provide a platform for young Palestinians and Israelis to “speak their truths” and to equip them to “become change makers.”