Ilana Gritzewsky was released on November 30 as part of an extension of a temporary ceasefire deal brokered by Qatar and the United States between Hamas and Israel. Partner Matan Zangauker is still captive. This is the story of their capture:
Matan Zangauker, 24, and Ilana Gritzewsky, 30, were abducted from their Kibbutz Nir Oz home on October 7 as Hamas terrorists waged a massacre on the kibbutz during the group’s terror onslaught on southern Israel, killing or kidnapping one in four residents on what has become known as the Black Shabbat.
Zangauker was in touch with his mother, Einav Zangauker, who lives in nearby Ofakim. When the sirens began sounding early that morning, he told her to relax — they were in their bedroom, which is the safe room.
As the situation worsened in the kibbutz, Zangauker wrote to his mother that the terrorists were in their house.
“Everything will be okay, my prince,” wrote his mother.
Then Matan wrote, “I love you, don’t cry.”
And finally, “Here. Here. Here.”
Zangauker has always been his mother’s rock, according to posts written about the 24-year-old. His parents divorced when he was young and Matan often took care of his younger sisters and is known as an independent, mature person, always available for support and understanding.
He and Ilana spend every Friday night with his family in Ofakim and he’s frequently in touch with his mother throughout every day.
Gritzewsky is Zangauker’s girlfriend, and made aliyah from Mexico 14 years ago, on the Naala program.
Her parents and sister later immigrated to Israel.
Posts about Gritzewsky consistently mention that having an Israeli boyfriend and living in Nir Oz were a mark of success for the Mexican immigrant, who felt like she had “arrived” as an Israeli.