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Support the Fund for Victims of Terror

Hila Gaier and Yishi Chana

Yishi Chana // Mother of Israel, who fell in battle defending OfakimHila Gaier // Professional Director, the Fund for the Victims of Terror

Yishi Chana // Mother of Israel, who fell in battle defending Ofakim

Israel didn’t have to leave his home in Ofakim on the morning of October 7. 

He didn’t have to press on the buttons of the safe, take out his service pistol, and become a hero. He didn’t have to warn the worshipers in the nearby synagogue that terrorists were on the loose and they should take cover. He didn’t need to go from one hiding place to another, eliminating terrorists who tried to penetrate the houses of residents, and he didn’t need to fight, one against many, with only 15 bullets, against dozens of human animals. 

Israel could have stayed at home. He could have listened to his mother, Yishi, who followed him and pleaded: Return home, my son. Return. 

He could have continued his 30th birthday celebrations, which finished a short time before the worst happened. He could have hid at home with his beloved partner Shahaf and told her: “Do you see? Just a moment ago we were celebrating together and now look at us.” He also could have taken out the ring and asked Shahaf to marry him, like he told his mother he was planning to. 

Israel could have done many things that might, perhaps, have left him alive, but on the morning of October 7, in the city of Ofakim that was struck by terrorists, he did what he thought was obvious: to face the danger and to save others, even if it cost him his life. 

In his death, Israel stopped the terrorists from continuing their murderous onslaught and saved the lives of many in the Mishor HaGefen neighborhood. May his memory be a blessing. 

In his panic to take on the terrorists who had descended on his city Ofakim, Israel left his home wearing only one flip-flop. 

When they couldn’t find him, Shahaf and the Chana family used that information to try to see what had happened. Yishi, Israel’s mother, met the security forces and asked: “Did you see a man with black trousers and one flip-flop?” She didn’t get an answer, until one of them replied: “I’m sorry, it’s not my role to tell you.” Yishi understood

Shahaf went on her own search, and when she found a single flip-flop in a pool of blood, she also understood. 

But although they anticipated the worst, Israel’s loved ones didn’t lose hope. They called every hospital in the south – Israel wasn’t on the list of injured. They contacted Zaka’s center where the dead were being collected at Ofakim Cemetery – he wasn’t there either. 

The bitter certainty reached them when they located Israel’s phone and discovered that their loved one was at the “Shura” camp, where all the victims of the massacre had been taken.

“God let me be with Israel until he was 30; when he turned 30, he took him from me,” his mother Yishi eulogized. “Today I feel like I am naked, and it’s really difficult.”  

Hila, the professional director of the Fund for Victims of Terror, has done everything to locate the countless families whose worlds were destroyed at the start of the war, and has been supporting Yishi and the Chana family. Hila, who is known as “the heart of the Fund,” holds close to her all those who have ever needed help and ensures that the October 7 victims receive all the support the Fund can offer. 

The Jewish Agency for Israel

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