Avi Boaz was born in Brooklyn on November 18, 1930. He came to Israel in 1960, Avi established an architecture firm with his partner, a Palestinian engineer. He was on close terms with many of the Arabs in Bethlehem and Beit Jala, believing firmly in peaceful coexistence. Boaz and his partner had built many homes in the Bethlehem area. The Boaz and al-Arja families had attended each others family celebrations, Although he lived in Israel for more than 40 years, he did not take Israeli citizenship and used his American passport to enter Beit Jala. When asked why he risked coming to the area, he said 'I'm an American, not an Israeli, and everybody around here is my friend.'
He was kidnapped at a PA security checkpoint in Beit Jala on January 1, 2002. The Palestinian police manning the checkpoint evidently did not intervene in the abduction. Avi's bullet-riddled body was later found in a car in Beit Sahur near Bethlehem. He is survived by his daughter, Idit Cohen.