Haim Livne, 87, was murdered by Hamas terrorists in his home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz on October 7.
His daughter, Yasmin Zohar, and her husband, Yaniv and two of their three children, Keshet and Tehelet, were also murdered that day.
He was buried on October 18 in Gderot, a day after the funeral for his daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters.
A native of Argentina, Livne arrived in Israel 1956, at age 20, after two years of studying agriculture and Hebrew in preparation for his aliya.
In a first-person account of his life published by an organization dedicated to building inter-generational connections — just a few months before he was murdered — Livne recounted his absorption into Israeli society, his ongoing studies in agriculture and his move to Nahal Oz in 1966.
“I studied geology, zoology, botany, physics, chemistry and other topics,” he said. “With the wide experience I had and the knowledge I gained, I started to do experiments, to develop new varieties of crops, and to perfect different methods — this is how I started to develop seedless watermelon.”
Livne said he worked in agriculture in Nahal Oz for decades, first in potatoes, later moving to developing and growing seedless watermelons, which he said made their market debut in 1980, “bringing me great pride.”
Maya Livne, his granddaughter, wrote that while her grandfather was 87 years old, “They cut your life short at your peak… People will think that I’m crazy, but you were every day at your peak, didn’t stop for a moment.”
“Really, you were the one who was crazy, with endless energy for life and joy and the adventurousness of a child, making sure to live every moment so that death doesn’t threaten you,” she wrote.
“Remember how I drove you nuts when I said that instead of gravestones we should put trees on top of people? So instead of exploding your grave with bouquets, your funeral had seedlings of your favorite flower that people can put in the ground and allow you to continue to spread beauty, so you’ll stay connected to the land you loved all of your life.”
Moshe Itzhaki recalled in a Facebook post getting to know Livne during his time on the kibbutz, and standing at his funeral remembering “conversations with Haim whose love for the land, his commitment and investment to developing and perfecting cultivation methods were evident in every corner of his body and soul.”
“It was impossible to miss his human warmth and his humor mixed with his ideological fervor in an Argentinian accent,” Itzhaki added. “I remember how proud and happy he was of his pioneering way in growing seedless watermelons — how proud he was that the watermelons of Nahal Oz became a household name around Israel.”
At the end of the funeral, Itzhaki said, mourners were handed begonia seedlings, his favorite flower, “so that something in his memory will bloom and blossom in the hearts of those accompanying him on his final journey.”