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After release from Gaza, Be’eri members visit destroyed kibbutz

Residents come back to pay their respects to neighbors and friends who were murdered or are still being held captive.

Former captives from Kibbutz Be'eri arrive at their home, which was destroyed in the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in southern Israel. Photo by Yossi Zeliger.
Former captives from Kibbutz Be'eri arrive at their home, which was destroyed in the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in southern Israel. Photo by Yossi Zeliger.

Hamas terrorists murdered about 100 members of Kibbutz Be’eri and visitors on Oct. 7. Of the 30 who were kidnapped from their homes, 19 have been released and the body of Judith Weiss was recovered. As of this moment, 10 kibbutz members are still being held hostage in the Gaza Strip.

Members of Be’eri who returned from Hamas captivity, returned to the devastated kibbutz this week to pay their respects to their neighbors and friends who were murdered or are still being held hostage.

Oren Sharabi, 13, whose father and uncle are still in Gaza, related: “My name is Oren. This is my first time in Kibbutz Be’eri since Oct. 7. Coming here scared me. It’s hard for me to be here after everything we’ve been through. I am coping with my fear because the scariest thing is that my father is still being held captive in Gaza.”

She described the horrific moments that turned her life upside down that day. “On Oct. 6, dad promised me we’d play soccer together, but on Saturday morning I woke up to a different reality.

“Dad held the door of the safe room shut and at first, he managed to stop them from entering, but the second time they managed to break in. I heard the terrorists laughing. They led us outside the house.”

Subsequently, the terrorists kidnapped her father, Yossi, and her sister’s boyfriend, Ofir Engel, who has returned from captivity.

Oren added: “My father is everything to me. He was always there. Now every second is precious.”

A woman amid the remains of Kibbutz Be’eri after Hamas terrorists infiltrated, Dec. 20, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Amit Shani, a 16-year-old 11th-grade student, was in his home’s safe room with his mother and sisters when Hamas terrorists entered the house. They broke the safe room’s door, grabbed Shani, and took him with them while they set fire to the family home.

This week he returned to where those moments of horror took place. “It started with the Code Red rocket alert, a fairly routine thing. Then there was a notification of an infiltration. We were sure that the incident was over, but with every minute it only got worse. They broke into our house. They broke into our safe room,” he said.

“They took us to Gaza. Captives are afraid all the time. You don’t know if there will be a tomorrow. If you will wake up.

“I want everyone to demand the release of all the hostages. They were abandoned once. They don’t deserve to be abandoned a second time,” Shani said.

A man whose father was murdered by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, 2023 searches the rubble of his home for family mementos in Kibbutz Be’eri, Nov. 30, 2023. Photo by Chen Schimmel/Flash90.

Thirteen-year-old Hila Rotem, who was released after 50 days in Hamas captivity, told of her experience: “I was kidnapped together with my mother and friend Emily Hand [who was freed after she turned nine years old in the Strip]. I was in Gaza for 50 days. It was hard for me. We were in the dark a lot and we were not allowed to talk, only to whisper. I was separated from my mother.”

Rotem said that a few days after she returned to Israel, she was told that her mother was being released. “I didn’t want to go to sleep and I waited for her all night. I don’t stop thinking about what those who are still there are going through. I know exactly what they are going through.”

Rotem’s mother, Raya, also talked about the moments of horror. “At noon I heard conversations in Arabic. The terrorists entered the safe room with guns and knives, grabbed me by my shirt, and just took me to Gaza.”

Raya says that she had a hard time understanding the situation, especially the absence of Israeli security forces. “The road to Gaza was completely open. There were no planes, there were no soldiers. I saw the fence and realized that we had reached Gaza.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

The aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks in Kibbutz Be’eri on Oct. 25, 2023. Photo by Edi Israel/Flash90.
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