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Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin and Vered Libstein

Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin // Chairwoman of the Fund for Victims of Terror

Vered Libstein // Survivor of the massacre at Kibbutz Kfar Aza

“I can hear dad shooting outside,” says Aviv, the son of Vered and Ofir, to everyone sitting in the safe room. 

A few minutes earlier on the morning of October 7 Ofir Libstein, head of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council, had left his house in Kfar Aza armed only with a pistol, after receiving a message: There is a fear that terrorists have infiltrated the kibbutz. 

Vered, together with her sons Aviv, Idan, and Uri, withdrew to the safe room. Nitzan, the second son, was in the residence for the younger kibbutz members. The minutes went by, and the family didn’t hear from their father. Aviv used an app to locate the phone and discovered that he was very close to their home. When the location of their father didn’t change for ten minutes, Aviv decided to endanger himself and to go searching for him. 

There, under an olive tree that Ofir had planted himself, he found the body. Afterwards people told Vered that they saw Ofir run with a helmet and a bulletproof vest, and he was the first who succeeded in reaching the armory and the first to fight the terrorists. 

Vered and the children spent 30 long and nightmarish hours in the safe room. During this time, she discovered that her love and the father of her children had been killed, and, as the hours passed, she also fought from afar for the life of her son Nitzan, who had been shot in the knee. Vered explained to Nitzan how to create an improvised tourniquet with a telephone cable, and when his cellphone battery died, she didn’t hear from him again. Only 12 days later they discovered that Nitzan had been murdered.

At Ofir’s funeral, Vered eulogized him: “How to summarize 30 years of loving partnership? You brought light to my life. You taught me to be happy and to love. We built together an incredible and loving home with four sons. We had a happy home. You were a man of vision, dreams, and people. You had so many friends. You loved them all like they were family. You convinced everyone that Sha’ar HaNegev was the perfect place to live because it’s 95% Garden of Eden and 5% hell. But what hell.” 

On 7 October Vered Libstein lost those closest to her – her mother Bilhah, her son Nitzan, her niece Neta, and her husband. May their memory be a blessing. 

On the morning of October 7, Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin, the chair of the Fund for Victims of Terror, say in front her television and didn’t believe what she was seeing. One nightmarish report followed another, and she and her friends at the Fund quickly understood: The Fund’s regular “battle procedure” wouldn’t be sufficient this time. This was an event on a whole different scale. When the narrator mentioned the name Ofir Libstein, Ayelet waited for him to appear on the screen and give an update about what was happening. But even when the “cleared for publication” message was repeated twice, she didn’t absorb the news. 

The veteran partner of the Fund for Victims of Terror and The Jewish Agency, as well as her close friend, had been killed. Ofir the hero was murdered defending Kfar Aza. 

Despite the heavy loss, the widow Vered has chosen to heroically cling to life. In the toughest moments after the disaster, Ayelet remembers hugs with Vered. Away from the destroyed homes of Kfar Aza, on the lawns of their temporary residence in Shefayim, Ayelet told Vered: The Fund for Victims of Terror has decided to create a resilience award in the name of Ofir and Nitzan Libstein. Nitzan, who suffered from post-trauma as a child, like many from the generation of rockets in the Gaza Envelope, succeeded with his special powers to grow and to become an influential person who helped others, just like his father Ofir. 

Ayelet promised Vered: Your loved ones will never be forgotten. 

The Jewish Agency for Israel

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