Those we have lost

Apichart & Phongthep Kusaram, 29, 26: Thai brothers on kibbutz

Murdered by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7

Phongthep Kusaram (left) and Apichart Kusaram (Courtesy)
Phongthep Kusaram (left) and Apichart Kusaram (Courtesy)

Apichart Kusaram, 29, and his brother Phongthep Kusaram, 26, from the Nong Song Hong district in Khon Kean province in northern Thailand, were murdered by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7.

Both brothers were working as farmhands on the kibbutz and were among the 11 Thai nationals slain when Hamas terrorists attacked their living quarters on the outskirts of Nir Oz.

Kurat Kha-Fluan, a Thai laborer who survived the attack on the kibbutz, told Ma’ariv that “I’ll never forget the terrifying and horrible moments when the Hamas came to our shelter, and starting shooting in every direction — I mostly remember chaos and confusion,” he said, noting that he had blocked out “some of the details, the moments when I saw my friends murdered in front of my eyes.”

Phongthep’s body was returned to Thailand on October 20 for a cremation ceremony; Apichart’s body arrived in his homeland on October 26. They are survived by their father and older brother, and Apichart is also survived by his wife and two young children.

In a report in Thai PBS World, the father of the two young men, Lampieu Kusaram, wept as he recounted that his sons were first reported as missing, and “at that time, I still had hope that my children had survived the attack.”

Regardless of any sort of compensation he receives from the Thai or Israeli governments, he said, “it could not compensate for my loss and grief.”

The father said that Pongthep, who was single, went to Israel first, and then persuaded Apichart — who was married with two children — to follow him there. While they were living there, Lampieu said, they were in regular contact with the family and had promised to buy him a tractor with their earnings.

Pongthep, who arrived in Israel in mid-2021, regularly posted snippets of his life in Israel on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok — showing him working in the fields, harvesting fruits, spending relaxation time with his fellow farmhands and also sharing screenshots of the money transfers he was sending back home.

At times he wrote about missing his family back in Thailand, posted photos from outings to a bowling alley in Kfar Saba, shared images of the fields, chicken coops and dairy farm of Nir Oz, and above all spoke of his desire to provide financially for his family.

In a post in March 2023, six months before he was killed, Pongthep wrote: “If I could ask for anything this year — I’m not asking for much… as long as I have a healthy body, no sickness, I can go to work every day as I want. My goals and life plans are all planned out. I just have to follow the path I set.”

Apichart’s wife, Kwanchanok Chomchuen, told the Khaosod English news site that “on the morning of October 7, my husband sent me a message that there was fierce fighting in the area. Then he went silent. I could not reach him.”

Only two days later, she said, did she find out that both Apichart and Pongthep had been killed.

“I feel both sadness and compassion for my 4-year-old daughter. Since her father went silent, she has begged to be able to call him every day. All I could tell her was that her father had to work and could not call,” she told the news outlet.

The website later reported that when his body arrived back in Thailand, the girl “cried and demanded to see her father.” After breaking the news, the news outlet said, “She hugged her mother, cried and then fell silent.”

At his cremation ceremony, Kwanchanok said: “If my husband is listening, I want to tell you that you don’t have to worry about your children. I will raise them to be good people like we both talked about.”

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