Hearing the approaching sound of gunshots, Avraham Hatuel stood up and prepared to exit the safe space of his home in Ofakim.
Avraham, known to his community as Avi, tried to calm his wife and three children, who had huddled in that space with him after rockets from Gaza started raining down on their city on October 7, by saying that “it may be just kids setting off some firecrackers,” his wife, Shoshi, told The Times of Israel. “I’m going outside to see what’s going on,” he said.
These were his last words. One of the dozen-odd terrorists who on October 7 raided Ofakim, going house to house in search of civilians to murder, gunned Hatuel down in the entrance to his house. But then the terrorists moved on, possibly because they believed they’d killed everyone at the Hatuels’ address.
“He sacrificed his life to save ours,” Shoshi said about her late husband, who was 52 when he was murdered and had worked at the Electra energy and engineering firm.
Hatuel was a devoted father and husband and his 25-year-long marriage to Shoshi was close and loving, Shoshi said. “He was just a perfect person. I miss him terribly,” she said at a hotel in Eilat, where she is staying as part of a government-sponsored rehabilitation program for the traumatized victims of the October 7 onslaught.
Shoshi heard the shot that killed her husband. She rushed to him but he was no longer conscious. She saw a small pool of blood starting to form under him and understood that his wound was life-threatening. She called emergency services repeatedly but soon realized the city was cut off as security services scrambled to clear the houses and streets from the armed terrorists.
“I went back inside the safe room and hid there. Occasionally I went to check on Avi and each time I saw the pool of blood grow until I understood he was going to die,” she recalled. She told her children that their father had lost a lot of blood and might not make it. Her youngest, Yagel, assured his sisters that their father would get a blood transfusion and “it will all be fine,” Shoshi recalled. Instead of responding to Yagel, Shoshi hugged her children and began sobbing.
The terrorist who murdered Hatuel holed up with four others at the home of David and Rachel Ederi, which is situated across from the Hatuel residence. Police killed all five terrorists there in a rescue operation from which both hostages emerged unscathed.
Avi and Shoshi Hatuel used to vacation in Eilat annually and the stay in that city brings back painful memories, Shoshi said. She still refers to him in the present tense. Twice since arriving at the Club Med hotel in Eilat, she told to her children to ask their father to give them a ride somewhere in town — before she remembered seeing him die.
“Avi wasn’t a soldier and he wasn’t a police officer, but he was a husband and father who, when danger happened, went to stop it with his body,” Shoshi said. “By doing that, he saved his entire family.”