Those we have lost

Shachar Aviani, 56: Kfar Aza security chief was ‘a man of the land’

Killed battling the Hamas invasion of the kibbutz on October 7

Shachar Aviani (Courtesy)
Shachar Aviani (Courtesy)

Shachar Aviani, 56, the head of the Kibbutz Kfar Aza local security team, was killed battling the Hamas invasion of the kibbutz on October 7.

With the start of the attack, Shachar headed to the kibbutz’s weapons locker, and called up the rest of the local security team with the warning: “This is not a drill, I repeat, this is not a drill, there are terrorists in the kibbutz.”

But the area surrounding the weapons arsenal was already beset by terrorists, and he and other members of the small security team fought back against dozens of them, with seven of them ultimately killed that day: Tal Eilon, Aviv Baram, Uri Russo, Ofir Libstein, Nadav Amikam and Avi Hindi.

Shachar was posthumously recognized as a fallen soldier with the rank of sergeant major in the reserves.

He was buried in Kibbutz Shefayim on October 19. He is survived by his wife, Sharon, their four children, Li-hi, 29, Yonatan, 26, Shaili, 20, and Gili, 17, his parents, Sarah and Asher, and his siblings Sharon and Sahar.

In 2018, Shachar spoke to the Globes news outlet amid a spate of arson kite attacks from Gaza, aimed at setting fields in the area on fire. He told the site that the damage was upsetting, “but let’s not forget an important thing, it’s just a kite. It’s not exact, it’s not strong, it can’t go that far.”

“Whatever comes, we’ll deal with it,” he added at the time. “In the meantime our focus is on the 60th celebration of the kibbutz this week. We’re continuing to live, to grow, to expand.”

He had served as the kibbutz security chief since 2017, and was deeply devoted to the community. He loved music, although his family said he couldn’t carry a tune, he was a steadfast Maccabi Tel Aviv fan and brewed his own line of beers.

Shachar and Sharon met in 1989 while they were both traveling in South America — a trip Sharon took a few years after her older brother, Yaron, was killed during his army service. The couple married in 1991 and settled in the kibbutz, where she was born and raised.

His youngest daughter, Gili, told La’Isha magazine that her father was “a man of the land even though he grew up in a city… he loved agriculture. He was a Zionist, loved the country.” Even before he moved to the kibbutz, she said, he pursued that path, attending an agricultural high school and working with livestock.

In his memory, she said, she tattooed an image of a sheep representing his love for animals, as well as the classic Yehonatan Geffen children’s album, “The Sixteenth Lamb.” Anytime he would return from a security incident in the kibbutz, she said, “I would recite a line from the album: ‘Many kids say that their fathers are heroes.'”

Shachar’s daughter, Shaili, wrote in Ynet that “my father was a happy and optimistic man.”

“He would always tell me, ‘Take life easy. life is simple, we’re the ones who complicate it,'” she recalled. “My father gave all the residents of the kibbutz a sense of security. If I had a shekel for every time I heard from someone in Kfar Aza the sentence: ‘Your father gives us confidence and we feel protected because of him,’ or, ‘We tell our children that Shachar is watching over them, and they feel safe and unafraid’ — I would already be a millionaire.”

Her father’s motto, she wrote, was “‘Do good, and the good will come back to you’… he believed that if someone spreads goodness, he will get it in return. He believed in that sentence so much that on that Saturday he didn’t think twice before leaving his house for a kibbutz teeming with terrorists. He protected us with his body, not just our family but the entire community.”

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