Tormented grandfather shows AI video of 8-year-old grandson, held in Gaza

Gilad Korngold speaks out for his seven relatives abducted by Hamas terrorists from Kibbutz Be’eri, including his son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

An AI generated photo of Naveh Shoham, commissioned by his grandfather Gilad Korngold, as he presses for the release of his grandson and six other family members (Courtesy)
An AI generated photo of Naveh Shoham, commissioned by his grandfather Gilad Korngold, as he presses for the release of his grandson and six other family members (Courtesy)

As father and grandfather Gilad Korngold spoke on Wednesday about the urgent need to release the 243 captives from Gaza, including his seven family members who were abducted, he showed an AI video about his eight-year-old grandson, Nave.

“Nave loves puzzles, he loves to read, he loves Harry Potter, he loves playing football, you know, soccer,” said Korngold, his voice breaking with tears during a brief press conference.

In the short video made by Shiran Mlamdovsky Somech and Danielle Ofek, Nave looks at the camera and says, “I’m telling myself this is just a story.”

Nave and his 3-year-old sister, Yahel, are two of the 30 children being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.

“It’s impossible that children, babies and mothers are being held in captivity in the Gaza Strip — everybody must raise their voice to release mothers and children,” said Korngold. “I think about them every minute.”

Nave, Yahel and their parents — Korngold’s son Tal Shoham and wife Adi Shoham — were visiting from their home in the north to spend the Simchat Torah holiday weekend with Adi’s extended family in Kibbutz Be’eri, where Adi Shoham was raised and where her parents Shoshan and Avshalom Haran lived.

Ten family members were initially thought missing after the massacre, including Adi’s aunt and uncle Lilach Leah Kipnis and Eviatar Kipnis, and 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 was also declared dead.

The body of Eviatar’s caregiver, Paul Castelvi, had been found in the nearby Be’eri forest.

The Hamas terrorists had burned the family home, forcing them all outside, said Korngold.

Be’eri was one of the communities hardest hit on October 7, when an estimated 2,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea that day, killing some 1,400 people and seizing at least 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly.

Most of Korngold’s daughter-in-law’s family was abducted and Korngold eventually heard that his son Tal Shoham (who Hebraicized his last name years ago), was seen alive and outside at some point that day.

Korngold lives in a nearby community, Kibbutz Gvulot, which is 12 kilometers from Gaza.

“We’re far from the border,” he said, describing a steady rain of rockets and a few individual Hamas terrorists who were found in the Gvulot fields during the first two weeks of the war.

Grandfather Gilad Korngold (right), with his granddaughter Yahel, one of seven family members taken captive in Gaza on October 7 by Hamas terrorists (Courtesy)

Since October 7, he’s been in regular contact with Israeli authorities, who confirmed that his family is being held in Gaza.

Korngold said he met with President Isaac Herzog as part of the forum of families of those being held captive, and found the meeting comforting.

“I trust the president, he speaks the truth,” he said.”We believe him. I believe the army, I don’t believe somebody else,” seemingly referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

At the same time, said Korngold on day 26 of the war, he is losing some faith in the army’s ability to find the captives and bring them home.

“Every day that there’s no sign of them is very terrible,” he said.

Korngold referred to comments made by Yocheved Liftshitz, one of the four released captives, who spoke about the kilometers they had to walk in Hamas tunnels before being released.

“We need to get them out today, not tomorrow,” he said. “Soon they will use them like human shields.”

Korngold and his son Tal are Austrian citizens and his daughter-in-law and family are German citizens. Despite visiting Austria frequently and “loving it there,” he said, he has no interest in living there.

The south of Israel, and his kibbutz, he said, are his home.

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