Initiative giving hope to orphaned Israeli children affected by Hamas terror attack

Our Children, Our War is working to help the youngsters who lost their parents, families, homes, pets, belongings and their entire communities


Itay and Hadar Berdichevsky had just seconds to respond when Hamas terrorists started to smash down the door of their shelter on Kibbutz Kfar Aza. The couple, both 30, fought the gunmen but were shot dead.

Twelve hours after the attack, two ten-month-old twins were miraculously found by Israeli soldiers: Itay and Hadar had somehow managed to conceal their babies from the terrorists just before they were murdered. The twins are in the care of their grandmother.

Almog Levy, two, was being looked after by his grandparents while his mum and dad, Or and Eynav Levy, attended the Supernova festival, the site of one of October 7’s worst massacres. Eynav, 32, has been confirmed dead while her husband Or, 33, is missing.

Rotem Mathias, 16, saw his parents killed as they tried to keep terrorists out of the safe room. He was shot in the stomach but survived, as did his two older sisters who hid elsewhere.

Twelve-year-old Ariel Zohar lost his father Yaniv, mother Yasmin, and two sisters, Tehelet, 20, and Keshet, 18; as well as his grandmother, Haim Livne, when the terrorists ransacked Kibbutz Nahal Oz.

They were among the 20 children under 18 orphaned in the October 7 atrocities. A further 18 young people aged between 18 and 25 have also been left parentless, according to a new charity set up to give them funding and emotional help.

Our Children, Our War is a new initiative set up by Israeli financial manager Tomer David, who found himself in the middle of the crisis after checking in on friends at Kibbutz Be’eri and discovering the place had been overrun by terrorists.

“These children have often not only lost both their parents but also their brothers, their sisters, their extended families,” said Tomer, 43. “They’ve lost their homes, their pets, their grandparents, all their belongings; their entire communities.

"Normally children have layers of support but these ones don’t because so many members of their family have been wiped out. They are often traumatised because they witnessed the atrocities and they saw their parents being butchered, their mothers raped.”

Like many in southern and central Israel, Tomer was woken up at 6.30am on October 7 by the noise of sirens.

Within an hour there were reports of gun battles on the Gaza border. He started to message his friends, Shai and Sharon Cohen, who lived on Kibbutz Be’eri, an epicentre of the attacks.

“They live near the cemetery and that was where the terrorists came in from,” he says. “At first I didn’t get any response and then they said, ‘Tell the army the terrorists are here, we can’t get through to them.’

“The phone signal was going in and out and I was trying everyone I could to help them. I also messaged all my neighbours to tell them what was happening to be prepared to go and help evacuate people who would need bedding, clothes.”

More than 100 people are missing or dead from Be’eri. Shai and Sharon survived because they managed to lock their safe room door, with Shai also stationed by the door with a gun.

“They had terrorists in their house trying to break into the shelter — all the kids were under the bed and Shai was by the door, holding the handle with one hand and his gun with the other for hours.”

They survived but realised they were the lucky ones; WhatsApp message from their neighbours gave an indication of the unimaginable horror.

When the army evacuated most of the kibbutz on the night of October 7, Tomer and his neighbours went to bring them to Tel Aviv, offering them beds to sleep in. “Most of them had nothing; they were still in their pyjamas, they didn’t even have shoes. Sharon was a champion skier — she represented Israel, a strong lady. She cried, ‘What have they done to us?’”

As his traumatised friends explained what had happened, Tomer quickly realised that there would be a lot of families destroyed, and a lot of orphans. “My friends’ four kids were crying.

Each of them was on WhatsApp with their friends from their classes and they were reading out, ‘this boy, his parents are dead’ ‘this girl, her parents are gone’. And as I was standing in my kitchen, I was realising the size of the tragedy.”

Our Children, Our War has been quickly set up with a team of volunteers supervised by the law firms Meitar and Ernst & Young with the aim of raising $8 million (£6.51 million) to help the orphans, with everything from therapy to educational support, university scholarships to savings accounts.

A website is due to be launched in the next few days while a bank account for British donations is also being organised.

“This is the worst thing that has happened to the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” said Tomer. “These children will need a unique organisation to support them, alongside the government.

"We want to serve each of them individually and we have already started with clothes, hobbies, even things like a remote-control car, which gives them a smile — even if it doesn’t last. We can’t compensate for what they have lost but we want to give them back the community they need.”

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