InterviewShlomi Ziv turned 41 in captivity on Sunday, January 21

Inching along, as she awaits his return, a sister of a Hamas hostage stays on course

Adi Kikozashvili can barely concentrate on her final year at Haifa’s Technion, but she knows her captive brother Shlomi Ziv would ‘be upset if I didn’t finish because of him’

Reporter at The Times of Israel

Adi Kikozashvili stands next to a post depicting her brother, Shlomi Ziv, who is a hostage held by Hamas in Gaza since October 7, 2023. (Diana Bletter)
Adi Kikozashvili stands next to a post depicting her brother, Shlomi Ziv, who is a hostage held by Hamas in Gaza since October 7, 2023. (Diana Bletter)

Adi Kikozashvili says the only reason she can go on with her life is because it is what her older brother would want her to do.

That brother, 40-year-old Shlomi Ziv, was kidnapped on October 7 (he turned 41 on Sunday, January 21, 2024), while working as part of the security detail at the Supernova desert rave festival when Hamas terrorists stormed into southern Israel, brutally murdering 1,200 people — including 360 at the festival — and taking 253 hostages into Gaza.

Ziv’s wife’s cousin, Aviv Eliyahu, the security manager at the festival, was among those slaughtered there.

Based on various sources of intelligence information, Israeli officials say at least 27 of the estimated 132 remaining hostages have died in captivity. Kikozashvili told The Times of Israel that the IDF has informed her family that they think her brother is alive.

It is that hope that keeps her going.

On January 14, Kikozashvili started her final year of studies at Haifa’s Technion in food bioengineering. She has difficulty concentrating, she said, and has to “study how to study again.”

“But he’ll be upset if I don’t finish because of him,” she said.

In various ways, the family members of Hamas-held captive Ziv are doing what they can to inch their lives along, often with great struggle. Ziv’s wife, Miran, who worked in the education department of the Maale Yosef Regional Council before the war is now actively pursuing the release of her husband and the other hostages.

Shlomi Ziv was part of the security detail at the Supernova party when he was taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy)

Ziv’s other sister, Revital, also took an unpaid leave from her job to concentrate on these efforts. Ziv’s mother, Rosita, has gone back to her job as head of the cleaning department in a surgical ward in the Galilee Medical Center, while her father, Murady, who does not work, keeps the television on in the background, although he is now able to “watch some sports.”

Kikozashvili said that trying to continue with their lives is a tribute to her brother, who turned 41 in captivity on Sunday, January 21.

On a recent evening at the youth center in Israel’s northernmost coastal city, Nahariya, where Kikozashvili volunteers as part of Netuim, a community leadership group that awarded her a college scholarship, she spoke about her brother, Shlomi, and what happened on October 7.

Ziv went to work at the Supernova Festival with distant family member Eliyahu, the festival’s security manager, on October 5. He loved to work at “nature parties,” she said, because there are “high-quality people,” and the campground was very organized.

They received permission to hold the party there, she explained, even though the party was held close to the Gaza border.

An armed Hamas terrorist leads a man at the Supernova music festival, near Kibbutz Re’im in the Negev desert in southern Israel on October 7, where terrorists from Gaza massacred hundreds of people. (South First Responders /AFP)

“What’s the difference between Tel Aviv and Kibbutz Re’im?” she asked. “It’s within our borders, in our own country.”

At 7:30 a.m., on Saturday, Ziv called her. He was very calm, she said, explaining that there was some kind of “terrorist invasion,” but he did not want her and the rest of the family to worry about him.

“There’s a traffic jam,” Ziv told her, not explaining that cars were bottlenecked trying to flee the terrorists. At 8:14, Adi’s sister, Revital, called Ziv who sounded breathless, running. The phone conversation lasted eight seconds and he told his sister, “I’ll call you back,” and then he hung up.

“We’re still waiting for him to call back,” Kikozashvili said.

She believes that the IDF is “doing everything they can to rescue the hostages.” She was not educated to be angry, she said.

Burnt cars are left behind at the site of the attack three days earlier by Palestinian terrorists on the Supernova desert music near Kibbutz Re’im in the Negev desert in southern Israel, on October 10, 2023. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

“What’s important now is to strengthen the government,” she said. “When the war is over, then everything should change.”

She said that she squeezes in talks with the media whenever she can because “they can’t talk.”

“We’re on the outside and we’re their voice,” she said.

For a few weeks after the start of the war, the family left Nahariya and stayed in Netanya, where someone allowed them to stay in an apartment for free so that they could be closer to the other families of hostages and protests at Hostages’ Square in Tel Aviv.

Kikozashvili said that although she tells people, “We need to celebrate life,” she finds it almost impossible to do so.

“My heart isn’t whole,” she said. “It’s broken.”

After October 7, it took her six weeks to listen to music, and another few weeks to be able to go out with a friend and sit in a café. She no longer watches the news, although in the beginning, it was “24/7.” But every morning, as soon as she wakes up, her first thought is, “When will they return,” and she switches from desperation to hope and back again in a matter of seconds.

Kikozashvili had planned to get an apartment in Haifa to be closer to the university and potential work, but she is staying with her parents so that they can all be together.

“Everything has been put on hold,” she said.

Adi Kikozashvili, sister of hostage Shlomi Ziv, at a rally at the Technion in Haifa. (Rami Shlush, Technion Spokesperson’s Office)

On January 14, marking the 100 days of war with Hamas, the Technion halted all activities and held a rally in solidarity with the hostages being held in captivity in Gaza.

“Please spread unconditional love and reduce the amount of gratuitous hatred,” Kikozashvili implored the crowd. “Pay attention to the friend sitting next to you in class, look people in the eye, see what is good in them, support one another, hug one another.”

She wondered out loud how it would be possible for her to return to her studies in these circumstances, “and the truth is that I have no idea. But we will do it with all the help and support that the Technion is giving us.”

Her parents rarely speak to the media anymore, and she chooses to do so when she has the emotional strength and the time.

This is a fight between good and evil, between light and darkness, between truth and lies

“I want to tell people outside of Israel, ‘Wake up!’” she said. “This is a fight between good and evil, between light and darkness, between truth and lies.”

She stood next to a poster of her brother and then turned to a display of notes and prayers that children at the youth center had written for the hostages. The October 7 slaughter, she said, has united Israelis in their faith, hope and prayers.

“Because what else do we have if not prayers?” she said.

About her older brother, Kikozashvili said that he had just finished a course in interior design and was supposed to pick up his certificate on October 10. He knows so many things about history, archaeology, geography, “he can find something to talk to with everyone,” she said.

She said that Hamas caused Israel to crack, but out of that crack will come strength.

“You see it happening, how Israelis are together, religious and secular, right and left, there are no differences,” she said. “Hamas broke us, but they won’t break us completely.”

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