Those We Have Lost

Shachar Zemach, 39: Peace activist defended kibbutz until last bullet

Killed fighting a Hamas invasion of Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7

Shahar Zemach who was killed in Kibbutz Be'eri on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy)
Shahar Zemach who was killed in Kibbutz Be'eri on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy)

Shachar Zemach, 39, from Kibbutz Be’eri, was killed fighting a Hamas invasion of the kibbutz on October 7.

As a member of the kibbutz’s rapid response team, he was recognized as a fallen soldier with the rank of sergeant major in the reserves.

According to Reuters, Zemach and other members of the Be’eri security team, including Eitan Hadad, were guarding the kibbutz dental clinic, which became an ad hoc triage center, as several wounded people lay inside, being treated by Dr. Daniel Levi and paramedic Amit Mann.

But Zemach and Hadad ran out of ammunition and retreated inside the clinic. One survivor heard Zemach shout in English: “Please, I’m not your enemy,” before there was more shooting and another grenade was thrown. Hadad, Levi and Mann were also slain alongside him inside the clinic.

Zemach’s funeral was held in Modiin on October 15 and he was laid to rest in Be’eri a day later. He is survived by his wife Ofri, their two children, Ella, 4, and Netta, 2, as well as his parents Shlomit and Doron and his younger siblings Yarden, Itai, Shai and Ido.

A native of Be’eri, he grew up in the kibbutz, and after his army service got a degree in economics and politics at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba. He worked for many years at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, before three years ago when he decided to accept the job of Chief Financial Officer at the Be’eri print shop, according to a kibbutz eulogy.

Zemach was at one point a prominent left-wing activist, member of Meretz and participant of Breaking the Silence, a group of IDF veterans who speak out about what they say are abuses against Palestinians they witnessed while carrying out during their service.

The organization noted that Zemach was a “man of peace, beloved and kind,” who worked with them in the past in organizing tours in Hebron for activists and journalists.

“He was killed with an M16 [rifle] in his hand, but in his other hand there was always an olive branch,” his father, Doron, told Channel 13 news.

His wife, Ofri, told the TV network that it was hard to come to terms with his loss because “Shachar was really the definition of living, of a person who wants to take life by storm, if he sat at home he had FOMO [fear of missing out], he couldn’t sit at home and do nothing, he felt like he was missing out on life.”

His brother, Ido, said, “For me, he was truly a role model. I didn’t say it to him too much.”

The kibbutz eulogy noted that Shachar was a dedicated runner and loved to play and watch soccer games — especially Liverpool or Maccabi Haifa — and to travel and hike around the country. He loved sitting around a bonfire and cooking on it, and also always helped to organize the kibbutz outings.

“His friends said he was the ultimate combination of serious and lighthearted: By day he wore the suit of a CFO, at night he lit a bonfire with the kids, and when they went to sleep he would invite his friends over to smoke hookah,” the eulogy reads. “Shachar was a man with a thirst for life, who loved others, an optimist, brave who saw every challenge in life as an opportunity. This is how we will remember him, and this is how we will continue to talk about him to his children, Ella and Netta.”

His mother, Shlomit, told Channel 13, “Shachar was a wonderful kid. As a mom when I gave birth to him, I felt like the happiest person in the world — to be a mom was all of my dreams coming true,” she said.

She always felt lucky that all of her children lived nearby in Be’eri, Shlomit said.

“I was blessed that all my children were around me, I was the hen, I laid chicks, I want all my chicks to be around me,” she said. “And until now they were always nearby.”

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