Israeli Boy, 13, Buries His Entire Family, Murdered in Hamas Terror Attack

Mourners attend the funeral of the Israeli woman Celine Ben David-Nagar, killed by Hamas m
Petros Giannakouris / Associated Press

Ariel Zohar, 13, buried his entire family on Wednesday after they were murdered by Palestinian Hamas terrorists in the Oct. 7 terror attack in Kibbutz Nahal Oz in southern Israel. Ariel was the sole survivor; he had gone out for a jog alone that morning.

Ariel’s father, Yaniv Zohar, 54, was a former Associated Press photographer who had covered local events for the AP for 15 years.

Yaniv Zohar 1 (Yehuda Peretz / Associated Press)

Yaniv Zohar (left), undated (Yehuda Peretz via AP)

Yaniv Zohar 2 (Yehuda Peretz / Associated Press)

FILE – This undated photo provided by Yehuda Peretz shows Yaniv Zohar in southern Israel. Zohar, a former Associated Press video journalist who covered conflicts and major news in his native country for three decades, was killed in his home during Hamas’ bloody cross-border rampage on Oct. 7, 2023, with his wife and two daughters. He was 54. (Yehuda Peretz via AP)

The Associated Press wrote in an obituary (Editor’s Note: After the Associated Press ran the obituary discussed in this story, the Israeli government death toll estimate of 1,400 was revised to around 1,200, according to Reuters):

Zohar was often the first to alert the news desk of violence nearby and the first to arrive on the scene.

Most notably, he was deeply involved in coverage of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and was the first newsperson on the scene of the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit by Palestinian militants the following year.

“Yaniv was AP’s eyes and ears in southern Israel, always among the first to respond to news in the busy region,” AP Executive Editor Julie Pace said. “He was a part of the community where he worked, giving him insights that were invaluable to his colleagues. When tensions rose in the Middle East, colleagues would quickly ask, ‘What does Yaniv say?'”

In recent years, Zohar worked as a photographer for the Israel Hayom daily newspaper.

“He was a wonderful friend, a devoted father, a man with heart and generosity,” the paper eulogized him in a statement. “He would always run after the next frame despite the difficult sights he was photographing.”

He found his death in perhaps the most devastating sight of them all, as at least 2,000 Hamas militants infiltrated from Gaza and in gruesome fashion killed more than 1,400 Israelis in the deadliest attack in the country’s 75-year history.

Zohar and his family were on the frontline of the massacre in their border kibbutz. He was killed along with his wife, Yasmin, 49, and his two daughters, Tehelet, 20, and Keshet, 18. Zohar’s 13-year-old son Ariel, who had gone for an early-morning jog, escaped alive.

Yasmin’s father, Haim Livne, was also killed in the attack.

Zohar was a gentle giant, standing over 1.9 meters tall (6 feet, 3 inches). Yet his many friends described him as modest, calm, quiet and generous. Though fiercely competitive, he was beloved by his fellow journalists who covered the region, and his home near the Gaza border became a base for other reporters arriving to report breaking news.

“His heart was as big as his body,” said photographer Yehuda Peretz, his close friend.

An estimated 1,000 people attended Zohar ‘s funeral Tuesday in central Israel, where the service was interrupted four times by air-raid sirens and incoming rocket fire from Gaza. Israel’s Iron Dome defense system could be seen interrupting rockets in the sky above.

According to Jewish tradition, burials take place as soon as possible. But it took 10 days before Zohar and his family could be laid to rest because of a backlog due to the sheer numbers of victims and because of the lengthy DNA process required to identify all the bodies.

Zohar’s sister Sivan said the repeated air-raid sirens prevented mourners from completing their eulogies.

“They won’t even let us bury our dead,” she said, her voice shaking. “They broke into their home and murdered all these good, innocent people in cold blood.”

For her father, an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor, she said the experience was like a “second Holocaust.”

She said Zohar’s son would be raised by her sister and that the family planned to go ahead with his bar mitzvah ceremony in a month. “We will continue to celebrate life, and we won’t let anyone destroy us. This is how we will avenge their deaths,” she said.

Many other such funerals have been taking place across Israel. On Tuesday, for example, the entire Kutz family was buried.

Kutz funeral (Ohad Zwigenber / Associated Press)

Mourners attend the funeral of the Kotz family in Gan Yavne, Israel, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. The Israeli family of five was killed by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 at their house in Kibbutz Kfar Azza near the border with the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenber)

Another funeral Tuesday saw a father and son, Gil and Or Taasa (whose names mean “Joy” and “Light”), buried together.

Taasa father and son funeral (Tsafrir Abayov / Associated Press)

Mourners gather around the coffins of Gil Taasa and his son Or, during their funeral in Kibbutz Nitzan, Israel, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023. The Father and his son were killed by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 in Netiv Haasara, close to the Gaza Strip’s separation fence with Israel, as the militant Hamas rulers of the territory carried out an unprecedented, multi-front attack that killed over 1,400 and captured many Israelis. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov) // (Editor’s Note: After the Associated Press ran the obituary discussed in this story, the Israeli government death toll estimate of 1,400 was revised to around 1,200, according to Reuters.)

There will be more funerals in the coming days — military as well as civilian — as Israel prepares a ground offensive in Gaza.

Israelis feel they have no other choice but to fight and risk their lives, since the alternative is being murdered in their homes.

Hamas murdered over 1,200 Israelis, wounded roughly 4,400 more, and took about 200 as hostages to the Gaza Strip.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to reflect a revised number on the death toll from the October 7 Hamas attack in Israel. The Israeli government estimate of 1,400 was revised to around 1,200, according to Reuters.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Photo: file


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