Iván Illarramendi Saizar, aged 46, and his wife Loren (Dafna) Pamela Garcovich Montoya, 47, were residents of Kibbutz Kissufim when it was invaded by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Initially, the couple was reported missing, sparking both concerns and hopes they might have been abducted by Hamas into the Gaza Strip.
After an extensive month-long search, the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv announced the discovery of their remains in their home. Identification was challenging due to the condition of the remains, relying on limited body parts and ashes found at the scene, as per EFE, a Spanish news agency.
The Chilean Foreign Ministry condemned the killing, emphasizing the heinous nature of the act.
Garcovich was the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors who fled to Chile in the late 1940s. The area around the Gaza Strip is home to a significant Latin American community, formed by people who sought refuge in Israel from military dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s. Founded in 1951 by a Zionist youth movement, Kissufim attracted members from the United States and Latin American countries.
Spanish media reported that Illarramendi and Garcovich met 15 years ago. During the Hamas attack, they were at their home and attempted to alert family members from their bunker, as confirmed by Israeli authorities.
Garcovich’s father, Danny Garcovich, recounted their last phone conversation on that fateful Saturday. His daughter reported Arabic-speaking intruders were “destroying everything” in their house. Around 12:30 p.m., their communication abruptly ended after Dafna Garcovich sent a series of desperate messages for help.
Inon Hefer, a close friend of the couple, shared with El Español, a Spanish newspaper, his final conversation with Illarramendi. Illarramendi had mentioned returning home early from a party due to nearby gunfire. Shortly after, he messaged that they needed to maintain silence, fearing a break-in.
Illarramendi, a native of Spain’s Basque Country, was officially declared deceased by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Rodica Radian-Gordon, the Spanish ambassador in Tel Aviv, expressed her profound sorrow over Iván’s murder on X (formerly Twitter).
Dafna Garcovich, born in San Felipe, Chile, just north of Santiago, moved to Israel with her family as a child in 1984 and held Israeli citizenship. During the attack, her parents, living nearby, managed to seek refuge in their bunker.
The Israeli embassy in Madrid disclosed that Iván and Dafna were found deceased together in their home.
The couple had separate funerals. Illarramendi’s body was sent to Spain, while Garcovich was laid to rest in Israel.