October 7 was the third time in Israel's history our family has been hit by terror

Adam Ma’anit’s grandmother was taken hostage during a massacre in 1948 and his cousin was murdered by a Hamas bomb in 2002


It was one of the first social media clips to alert the world that something unimaginably horrific was happening in Israel.

A young boy and girl could be seen sobbing, saying that their sister was dead. “I wanted her to stay alive,” cries one of them. A terrorist, pointing a gun, tells them to “relax”. Their parents, stained with blood, try to find a way of comforting them. In the background, there is the persistent sound of gunfire.

The footage had been posted by the terrorists on the Facebook page of the mother, Gali Idan, as a way of extending the pain of the wider family. The killers were so proud that they had murdered Gali’s 18-year-old daughter Ma’ayan that they wanted the world to see what they had done on Kibbutz Nahal Oz.

That unbearable pain continues for the whole family. The father in the video, Tsachi Idan, is one of around 240 hostages taken by Hamas. His family, including British Israeli Adam Ma’anit, who works at the Board of Deputies, don’t even know if he is alive or dead.

The only thing getting them through these darkest of days is ensuring that the world’s attention remains focused on the innocent Israelis kidnapped by cold-blooded terrorists.

“It feels like I am permanently in emergency mode,” says Ma’anit, who is the same age as his cousin Tsach — 49.

“It has been 30 days and we still don’t know whether he’s alive or dead. We don’t know what his condition is. All we know is that he saw his daughter die and then he was taken hostage.”

Ma’anit’s family story is a microcosm of the tragedy of the Jewish people and the land of Israel.

His German-born grandmother, Mina Akerfeld, escaped the Nazis for then-Palestine in 1933. She worked for the British during the Second World War and then joined the Haganah. She was one of 320 people — 80 of them women — to be abducted and held for several weeks by the Arab League after the Kfar Etzion massacre in 1948, in which 127 fighters and kibbutzniks were killed.

Ma’anit’s cousin, Orly Ofir, was murdered in 2002 during the Second Intifada. She was just 16. She had been eating in Matza, a Haifa restaurant, founded by Jews and Arabs, when a Hamas terrorist blew himself up, killing 16 Israelis. Now his family is mourning another teenager killed by Hamas, and another abduction.

The terrorism that killed Orly was organised by a Hamas leader called Husam Badran. He was imprisoned but released during the huge prisoner exchange agreed for Gilad Shalit, the IDF solider captured by Hamas in 2006 and handed over in 2011.

Now living in luxury in Qatar, Badran is an international spokesman for Hamas. As such, in 2012 he attended a conference featuring a panel event with Jeremy Corbyn, who famously called Hamas “friends”.

Ma’anit thinks back to happier times visiting Nahal Oz with a big group of cousins — Tsachi is a first cousin of his first cousin — when he was younger. “I’d play football with Tsachi. He was a lovely, gentle man who loved Cat Stevens. I always found it fascinating on Nahal Oz because it is so close to the border — you would look over the fence and wonder what life was like on the other side.”

Like many of the victims of Hamas, Nahal Oz residents were peaceniks; people had been planning to fly kites to signal peace the on day of the massacre.

The balloons from Ma’ayan’s 18th birthday party a few days earlier were still up when terrorists sneaked into her family home at kibbutz Nahal Oz on October 7.

The family, having been alerted to rocket attacks, were in their safe room. But, as with so many of the safe rooms designed for threats from bombs, not humans, it did not have a lock.

Tsachi and Ma’ayan, a keen volleyballer who had recently started her first serious relationship, were attempting to hold the handle shut when the terrorists managed to get in and shot her in the head.

The blood visible on Tsachi in the footage comes from his desperate attempts to revive his beloved daughter. The two crying children are Shacher, nine, and Yael, 11.

“Even as they were dragging everyone out of the safe room, he was trying to resuscitate her,” says Ma’anit. “They made Gali open up her phone and go onto Facebook so that her friends and family could see what they were going through.

“You can see how terrified the whole family is; worried that they are going to be next. The children don’t really understand what is happening, they can’t process it. Because how could anyone?”

Ma’anit has seen 26 minutes of footage but says it went on for hours. “We know it lasted a long time; we also know the IDF were closing [in] on them — there are times when they are shooting out of the windows — and they were talking about how they were going to get out.”

The family believes that Tsachi, who was abducted at the same time as three others from his kibbutz, was used as a human shield for the terrorists who took him while under fire from the IDF.

Ma’anit didn’t find out what had happened until 8 October. His family is so large and the situation was so confusing that he was waiting for many cousins to return his messages.

As a CST officer in Brighton, he was also concentrating on making sure the local community was safe and as he walked the streets of the city a joyful pro-Palestinian demonstration was already happening with one speaker calling it a “day of celebration”.

“There were people who were saying the attacks were inspiring and beautiful and I was disgusted,” recalls Ma’anit.

And then he saw the video of Tsachi and his family and realised that once again his relatives were terror victims. He feels powerless. And fury that even the posters of the kidnapped have become part of a proxy battle.

“The posters feel like a public way of honouring the abducted — they are a public expression of pain,” he says. “And when you see people tearing them down it is really upsetting… It feels like everyone of those abducted is a member of my family.

“The girl with brown curls who is autistic — she’s the same age as my daughter. The babies. Every one of these stories hurts.

“Everywhere around us there are people who are either denying that these atrocities happened or denying that the hostages even exist. The thing that strikes me about the people tearing down these posters is that they are not Nazis. They are weedy little pink-haired kids with right-on views.

“For them it’s like an affront to have kids’ faces staring at them because it’s damaging to the Palestinian cause. There is this cognitive dissonance like they can’t see us as victims. It ruins their narrative because they don’t believe Israelis can be victims. It feels like we are living in an upside-down world.”

On Tuesday evening, Ma’anit and other members of the Brighton Jewish community gathered for a vigil to remember the dead. Even there, as they read out the names of family who had been killed, activists shouted “Free Palestine” and one knocked over a table where lit candles and photographs had been placed.

Ma’anit said: “Despite the hate… we cleaned up the scattered candles, photos and flowers, and carried on. Their memories will forever be a blessing. Am Yisrael Chai.”

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