Four days after Hamas terrorists infiltrated Kibbutz Kfar Aza, Yotam Haim’s brother Tuval is desperately trying to determine his fate.
“He messaged us in the family WhatsApp group. He told us he was locked in his safe room and there are terrorists walking around in the kibbutz and they are already in his house,” Tuval said.
Yotam’s last communication was a brief video clip, capturing only darkness and the chilling sound of gunshots.
“He wrote us that he loves us, and then, the connection was abruptly cut off,” said Tuval, choking with tears.
Kfar Aza and its roughly 800 residents live less than 1.25 miles from the Gaza border. Yotam, 28, worked alongside his father in the agricultural fields of nearby Kibbutz Re’im.
Yotam lived in a section of the kibbutz known as Dor Tzair (“The Young Generation), and information is scarce. The Israel Defense Forces is not allowing residents to return as soldiers continue to search for remaining terrorists. Most residents of Kfar Aza and other communities were evacuated on Sunday.
Soldiers involved in the ongoing battles have not reported seeing Yotam. There were unverified accounts of his house being on fire.
“We have to get any information on what is going on there, anything, we are desperate for information about Yotam,” Tuval said in desperation.
Tuval and his family have searched the hospitals, hoping to find a trace of Yotam, as yet to no avail.
Perhaps Yotam collapsed in a field or was taken to Gaza dead or alive. Tuval has no answers, only dead ends.
“I hope he wasn’t taken hostage or killed. I hope he’s staying in a safe room with no connection, waiting to be evacuated.”
The number of casualties and missing from Kfar Aza remains unknown as the IDF continues to check the area for remaining terrorists. The number of Israelis taken captive isn’t clear, but media reports suggest the number may be as high as 150.