‘17 of my neighbors were killed by Hamas,’ KKL-JNF Board member shares

Article courtesy of the Jerusalem Post

Robert Tiviaev, a resident of the southern city of Ofakim and a member of the KKL-JNF Board of Directors, experienced personal moments of terror during the Hamas massacre on October 7.
Robert Tiviaev, a resident of Ofakim and a member of the KKL-JNF Board of Directors, experienced moments of terror on October 7. Since the beginning of the war, KKL-JNF has stepped up its effort to assist victims, soldiers and displaced Israelis.
On that fateful morning, fourteen heavily armed Hamas terrorists rolled into the city in two trucks. Ofakim Mayor Itzik Danino described how the terrorists infiltrated the town on their mission of murder and destruction.

Photograph: Rami ChahamaPhotograph: Rami Chahama

“Our heroic residents heard the shooting and organized themselves spontaneously. They left the house with guns, knives, and their bare hands, when in front of them were terrorists armed with automatic weapons, RPGs, grenades, and explosive charges.”
The residents, together with sparse police forces, managed to eliminate nine terrorists. Five more barricaded themselves in the apartment with hostages, and they were later killed by the fighters of an anti-terrorist unit. Fifty people were killed in the Hamas attack on the city.

Photograph: Yossi ZeligerPhotograph: Yossi Zeliger

“Seventeen of my neighbors were murdered,” says Tiviaev, “and I was not far from being murdered as well. We have not internalized what happened. At night, I evacuated the bodies of residents together with members of the ZAKA organization, which assisted in locating those who had been murdered. Funeral after funeral was held at the Ofakim cemetery – it was almost like a production line. After four days, I arrived at a hotel at the Dead Sea. I asked my wife to leave for a moment, and only then did I start to cry.”
Members of the KKL-JNF Board of Directors toured the regional councils near the Gaza border last week, with the aim of learning their needs and continuing to support the residents who endured the terrible terrorist attacks.

Photograph: Yossi Zamir, Flash90Photograph: Yossi Zamir, Flash90

 “We are all with you – the board and the professional ranks of KKL-JNF,” KKL-JNF Chairwoman Ifat Ovadia-Luski, said, while meeting with the people of Ofakim. “We were partners in the blossoming of the Negev from the beginning, and this is our role today as well.”
Following the attacks, KKL-JNF mobilized for immediate assistance in evacuating residents, equipping emergency teams, educational activities for the evacuated families, and the donation of ambulances.
"From the day the war broke out, the entire board was mobilized,” Ovadia-Luski said. “KKL-JNF has always played a central role in building the country and will also be part of the reconstruction of the surrounding area. KKL-JNF has so far provided initial emergency aid. We have put aside all other issues, and we are mobilized to deal with emergency matters."
“Our big challenge is to restore the feeling of security and help the residents deal with the trauma,” Danino said. “I am very familiar with the work of KKL-JNF, and I know how much it works for the State of Israel, so this is an opportunity to say thank you.”
Released on November 30, 2023