Those we are missing

Taken captive: Sagui Dekel-Chen spotted first incoming terrorists

Captured in Kibbutz Nir Oz after ascertaining family’s safety and fighting invaders hand-to-hand on October 7

Sagui Dekel-Chen, a resident of Kibbutz Nir Oz, was taken captive on October 7, 2023 by Hamas terrorists (Courtesy screenshot)
Sagui Dekel-Chen, a resident of Kibbutz Nir Oz, was taken captive on October 7, 2023 by Hamas terrorists (Courtesy screenshot)

Sagui Dekel-Chen, 35, was about 200 yards away from his Kibbutz Nir Oz home on Saturday, October 7, when he first noticed Hamas terrorists entering the kibbutz.

In media interviews, his father, Connecticut-born Jonathan Dekel-Chen, a Hebrew University professor who also lives at Nir Oz but was away on business, and mother, Neomit Dekel-Chen, are telling the details of that terrifying day, when “heavily armed and precisely organized” Hamas terrorists began moving through the kibbutz.

Sagui and a few others raised the alarm about what was happening, and residents began entering and locking the sealed rooms of their homes, said Dekel-Chen. Sagui checked that his wife, Avital, and their children were safe and then went back outside with the rest of the kibbutz security team.

The siege went on for hours, but Sagui was last heard from at 9:30 a.m., said his father.

“My daughter-in-law and the kids are now traumatized,” said Dekel-Chen. “Avital heard her husband struggling in hand-to-hand combat.”

Sagui’s mother, Neomit, 63, also lives at Nir Oz, and was taken captive along with her neighbors in an electric cart headed toward Gaza, when an IDF helicopter shot at the terrorists and driver. Neomit, injured, made her way back toward the kibbutz to her family and was eventually rescued and evacuated.

Jonathan Dekel-Chen has been part of the American delegation of family members of those missing with US citizenship, telling the family’s story widely to gain attention for the ongoing plight of those taken captive.

“This is my struggle to free Sagui or ascertain that he and the others are alive,” he said. “These are my friends, my neighbors, teachers, students, nurses, farmers. I, like the other families, desperately want our loved ones back and to do anything to come home and fulfill their dreams.”

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