Family buries belongings of Liel, 12, burned alive during terror attack on kibbutz

With no body left to identify, family lays her personal effects to rest


(JNS) In the end, it was merely the belongings of 12-year-old Liel Hetzroni that were buried in the small cemetery of Kibbutz Revivim in the Negev Desert late last Wednesday.

Liel was burned alive in the October 7 massacre on Kibbutz Be'eri alongside her twin brother, Yanai.

Yanai's body was identified, but there was no way to officially identify Liel.

Despite that, her family chose to hold a farewell ceremony for her. They also decided to bring personal belongings for burial.

Those personal effects were buried next to the graves of Yanai and their grandfather's sister, Ayala, who had raised them as her own children, and grandfather, Avia.

Avia, who lived nearby on the kibbutz, was murdered as he hid in his safe room. He was shot and bled to death.

The 12-year-old twins, Liel and Yanai Hetzroni, had been raised from birth by Ayala on Kibbutz Be’eri after their mother, Shira, suffered brain damage following a C-section birth due to a tragic hospital mistake.

Over a decade later, on Saturday morning, October 7, tragedy would strike the family again.

Hearing the shouting and the shooting when Hamas terrorists overran Kibbutz Be'eri that morning, Liel texted a teacher to say she was suffocating. “Hang in there,” the teacher replied by WhatsApp.

“Gaza has entered the gates of Be’eri,” Ayala texted a friend at 12.57.

In the early afternoon, the twins and their great-aunt were snatched from their home and held captive in another house along with 12 other hostages, most of them elderly kibbutz members.

“I was with the children in the home with the terrorists in the last hours of their life,” Yasmin Porat, 44, who was one of only two of the group of hostages to survive, told JNS. 

“I can see them now — Liel was very stressed and was crying, while her brother Yanai was calmer.”

Porat, who is from northern Israel, had stopped at the kibbutz with her boyfriend after fleeing the Supernova dance festival - the site of another horrific massacre - when they too were seized.

She said she made seven calls to the police during the afternoon, at the behest of the terrorists. In one of the calls, the terrorists put the frantic Liel on the phone, because they thought Porat was being too controlled in her conversation and they wanted a sobbing child to get on the call.

At about 5.30pm, one of the terrorists led Porat out of the house at gunpoint. He surrendered to Israeli security personnel, taking off his clothes to show he did not have a bomb, Porat reported. 

The dozens of other terrorists remained barricaded inside the house with the 14 other hostages, including the petrified children, she said.

Later in the afternoon, a firefight erupted. The house went up in flames and burned down to cinders.

It took two weeks to identify Yanai Hetzroni through DNA. Ayala was only identified after a month, while Liel was never officially identified, Ayala’s nephew Omri Shifroni, 38, said. Yanai was laid to rest alongside his grandfather.

Speaking at the at the joint funeral service for Liel and Ayala at Revivim, Ayala’s nephew Omri Shifroni, 38, said: “Until this very moment we do not have positive identification of Liel’s body but we know she was murdered,”

The Revivim buiral site is temporary resting place until Be'eri, now a closed military zone, can be re-inhabited.

Hundreds of people, mourning the twins and the woman who cared for them, lined the well-kept cemetery, in the crisp late afternoon desert air. 

Shifroni’s older brother, Sagi, wounded and bandaged from the fighting in Gaza, walked alongside the fresh graves. 

As the siblings were laid to rest, a golden sunset streaked over the graves.

“Soon it will rain, and the anemones will bloom in red,” a family member said.

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