ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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Those we have lost

Avner and Maya Goren, both 56: Dedicated kibbutznikim, parents of 4

Avner was killed by Hamas terrorists in Nir Oz on Oct 7, Maya was taken hostage and her body held captive in Gaza

Maya Goren, left, was abducted by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from Kibbutz Nir Oz. Her husband, Avner Goren, was killed. The kibbutz announced on December 1 that she was killed and her body was held by Hamas in Gaza. (Courtesy)
Maya Goren, left, was abducted by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from Kibbutz Nir Oz. Her husband, Avner Goren, was killed. The kibbutz announced on December 1 that she was killed and her body was held by Hamas in Gaza. (Courtesy)

Avner Goren, 56, was murdered by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7. His wife, Maya Goren, also 56, was abducted that day and taken hostage in the Gaza Strip. On December 1, the IDF confirmed Maya’s death, but did not provide any details on the date or circumstances.

Kibbutz Nir Oz said that Maya’s body is being held hostage by Hamas.

Maya, a teacher in Nir Oz, was setting up the kibbutz’s kindergarten space on the morning of October 7 when the Hamas attack erupted, and she was snatched by the terrorists. Her husband, Avner, was murdered inside the couple’s home.

Avner was a native of the kibbutz where he was born and raised, while Maya moved there from Ramat Gan to be with him.

The couple are survived by four children, Assif, 25, Bar, 23, Gal, 21 and Dekel, 18. Bar and Dekel were in the kibbutz at the time and survived, while Asif and Gal were elsewhere.

Dekel told Ynet that on the morning of the attack, Avner called her and warned her to enter her safe room as the kibbutz was under attack. Dekel said her father communicated to her that terrorists had entered his home. He tried to prevent the invaders from accessing the safe room where he had sought refuge. After that, she did not hear from him again.

Earlier, Dekel spoke with her mother who said she was hiding under a table as terrorists had entered the kindergarten building. That was her last conversation with Maya.

Hours later IDF soldiers arrived to rescue the kibbutz, and survivors gathered together. Dekel and Bar, who both lived on the kibbutz but not with their parents, held out hope that they would find them.

“We waited to see our parents arrive, we hoped that perhaps they stopped answering because there was no signal [for their phones] or the battery had run down,” Bar said.

“Time passed and they didn’t arrive,” added Dekel.

גל, בנם של אבנר ומיה גורן ז"ל שנרצחו בניר עוז ב-7.10, כותב: "זאת לא תהיה מלחמה אזורית", "מאמין שייגמר עוד כמה ימים" -…

Posted by ‎קיבוץ ניר עוז Kibbutz Nir Oz‎ on Sunday, December 3, 2023

A week later they were told by Israeli officials that both of their parents’ phones had been traced to inside the Gaza Strip. Two days later, they were informed that Avner’s body had been identified. He was buried in Kibbutz Nir Oz where he lived his entire life.

“It is the place where Abba [Dad] grew up, his parents founded the kibbutz,” Dekel said. “We knew we would do everything so that our father would be buried in Nir Oz, and so it was.”

A eulogy posted by the kibbutz recalled Avner as “blessed with talents in many fields: a man of spirit, writing, and knowledge in many areas, who wrote texts for us full of wit and humor that we used to celebrate the holidays.”

The kibbutz said Avner was “a significant and influential figure in the kibbutz’s accounting, a true professional. We were privileged in Nir Oz to enjoy the many talents you were blessed with.”

On December 1, the kibbutz and the IDF confirmed that Maya had also been killed. A funeral date was not announced, as her body is believed to still be held in Gaza, although the family sat shiva, the traditional mourning period.

Gal, their son, wrote after his mother’s death was confirmed that his family had hoped and prayed things would turn out differently.

“Mom, for more than 56 days you were on the other side of the fence, and our hearts did not stop worrying and missing you. And then we got the news — you are on the other side of the fence, but no longer with us, and our hearts stopped beating. Even now I cannot stop thinking about you,” said Gal.

“I don’t know when you were no longer with us. I know that already that day you were hurt badly from gunfire but we always tried to hold onto the tiniest hope that maybe, maybe, maybe someone had treated you and saved your life,” Gal continued. “I know that if you were still alive you would have probably gone crazy worrying about us. You would have been insane with worry for your beloved husband, Dad — may his memory be a blessing — who was killed in your warm and loving home and you didn’t even know. You would have thought about our sweet [dog] Scar who was also murdered… you would have been playing worried scenarios in your head about Bar and Dekel, because you wouldn’t know they were alive and with us.”

“You were always concerned that if you weren’t here, we would be there for each other, and the truth is, if you and Dad could see us now you would be so proud of us,” Gal added. “You raised an incredible family, a family that despite a million and one cracks is still standing. A family that fought so hard to bring you  home to us.”

“I inherited so many things from you — your pull toward education, your belief in people, your uncompromising desire to give and provide… rest in peace with Dad, allow yourselves to rest and trust us that we are loved and embraced,” said Gal.

Read more Those We Have Lost stories here. 

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