Yahel Shoham, 3, and 5 members of her wider family freed; her dad still held in Gaza

Kid’s brother Naveh, 8, mom Adi Shoham, grandmother Shoshan Haran, Haran’s sister-in-law Sharon Avigdori, latter’s daughter Noam, 12, freed after 50 days; Tal Shoham still captive

Yahel Shoham, 3, from Kibbutz Be'eri (courtesy)
Yahel Shoham, 3, from Kibbutz Be'eri (courtesy)

Shoshan Haran, daughter Adi Shoham, grandchildren Yahel Neri, 3, and Naveh, 8, as well as Haran’s sister-in-law Sharon Avigdori, and the latter’s daughter Noam, 12, were released on November 25 as part of a temporary ceasefire deal brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United States between Hamas and Israel. Father Tal Shoham is still captive in Gaza. This is the story of their capture:

The extended Haran, Avigdori, Shoham and Kipnis families were celebrating the Sukkot holiday together at Kibbutz Be’eri when Hamas terrorists seemingly took the entire family captive during the terror group’s bloody October 7 onslaught launched from the Gaza Strip.

Ten family members were initially thought missing after the massacre, including Shoshan Haran, 67, and her husband Avshalom Haran, 66; their daughter Adi Shoham, 38, a psychologist, her husband Tal, and their two children Yahel Neri, 3, and Naveh, 8; Avshalom Haran’s sister Sharon Avigdori, a special needs psychologist, and her 12-year-old daughter, Noam.

On October 17, the family learned that Eviatar Kipnis, 65, and Avshalom Haran’s remains had been identified. On October 23, the family learned that Lilach Kipnis was also declared dead.

“The whole family is decimated,” said Kipnis’s nephew, Maayan Smith. “We weren’t sure if they were alive or dead.”

Shoshan and Avshalom Haran’s son Yuval, and daughter-in-law, Annalee Milstein, also live in Be’eri but had traveled to a music festival and were not on the kibbutz at the time. The festival they were at was not the Supernova festival, where another 350 people were butchered and an unknown number were kidnapped — likely in the dozens, at least — by Hamas terrorists.

Yuval Haran spoke to his parents when he heard the news of a rocket barrage on the morning of October 7 that marked the beginning of the onslaught, and his mother Shoshan answered the phone whispering, saying she heard the shouts of terrorists outside. Shoshan and Avshalom Haran stopped answering and would only text, telling Yuval and Annalee that they were in deep trouble and didn’t know if they would survive.

The body of Eviatar’s caregiver, Paul Castelvi, was found several days later in the nearby Be’eri forest.

When Castelvi’s body was identified, the family feared that all 10 family members had been killed as well.

Shoshan and Avshalom Haran, part of an extended family of 10 missing since the October 7, 2023 massacre in Kibbutz Be’eri (Courtesy)

They then received a phone call from the Israeli security forces telling them there was a very good chance all 10 had been taken to Gaza.

“So all is in play,” said Smith.

Members of the Haran and Kipnis families have been trying to piece together information on their own.

According to Shoshan and Lilach’s brother Aviv, who visited the Haran home, the building had been torched and there were no bodies inside.

A friend of Avshalom Haran tried to call him many times that Saturday and at some point, someone answered the phone in Hebrew with an Arab accent and said the word “kidnapped.”

Tracking some of the family members’ phones, the relatives could see that at least part of the missing Haran family was in Gaza.

An extended family of ten members, the Kipnis and Haran families, all assumed captive in Gaza (Courtesy)

It’s all horribly ironic, said Smith, as this is a family with deep roots of social activism.

“These are people of peace, of social activism,” said Smith. “They’re people who are just extraordinary, the whole kibbutz was too.”

Lilach, a psychologist, worked with kids experiencing trauma, particularly from the country’s south, and has been active in Women in Black and Women Make Peace, part of the global women’s anti-war movement. She frequently protested against Israel’s presence in the West Bank, added Smith.

Shoshan Haran is an agronomist specializing in plant protection, whose work includes a startup that deals with the lack of quality seeds for farmers in developing countries, with the goal of addressing world hunger.

The family is working their connections to the German government through Shoshan, who has German citizenship, along with her daughter and granddaughters.

There’s Italian citizenship in the family, as well, through Eviatar and Lilach, and Tal, Shoshan’s son-in-law, has Austrian citizenship.

“Lilach and Tari are people of peace, who believe in coexistence and had Palestinian and Bedouin friends,” Smith said. “Their focus in life is to fight the occupation, those were their values.”

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