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.
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. Her partner, Matan Zangauker, is still captive.
Zangauker’s mother, Einav Zangauker, said after Ilana’s release that they had no information about Matan, except for “a sign of life.” She added that he is strong and a survivor, and can live on rationed food and water.
“Matan, as you were robbed of life, you will return to life, we’re fighting for you,” said Zangauker.
Zangauker is very close with his mother, who lives in nearby Ofakim and was in touch with her on the morning of October 7. 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’s parents divorced when he was young and Matan often took care of his younger sisters. He is known as an independent, mature person, always available for support and understanding.
Gritzewsky, Zangauker’s girlfriend, made aliyah from Mexico 14 years ago, on the Naala program. Her parents and sister later immigrated to Israel.