Young dad of 6 absorbed blast to protect family in attack on Kerem Shalom

Amichai Shindler, whose older brother was killed in 2010 terror shooting, was severely injured as Hamas terrorists blasted open saferoom door as he held it closed

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Amichai Shindler (back row, left), his wife during the Sukkot holiday, October 2023. Days later, Hamas terrorists attacked the family in their home and Amichai was badly injured. (Courtesy of Shindler family)
Amichai Shindler (back row, left), his wife during the Sukkot holiday, October 2023. Days later, Hamas terrorists attacked the family in their home and Amichai was badly injured. (Courtesy of Shindler family)

Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, a mixed religious-secular community of some 200 residents, is less than 100 meters from the southern tip of Gaza.

The children in the Shindler family would regularly play on their patio, within spitting distance of the tall concrete wall that separated their community from the Hamas-run enclave.

After Hamas terrorists breached the security fence in the early morning of Saturday, October 7, it took almost no time for them to infiltrate Kerem Shalom.

Social worker Amichai Shindler, 33, was badly injured when terrorists burst into his home in the kibbutz and tried to blast their way into the saferoom where he and his family were hiding.

Thousands of terrorists burst through the border and ravaged Israeli southern communities that morning, killing over 1,300 people, most of them civilians, taking at lest 199 people captive, and sparking an ongoing war.

Kerem Shalom’s 10-person civil defense team killed at least 20 Hamas terrorists as they protected the community. Two members of the team died.

“On Saturday morning, when the rocket sirens went off, Amichai, his wife, and six young children went quickly into their fortified room. They had no idea that this would be a different kind of attack,” said Shindler’s mother Sigalit.

Sigalit and Moshe Shindler at Sheba Medical Center, where their son Amichai is being treated for injuries sustained when Hamas terrorists attacked his home in Kibbutz Kerem Shalom on October 7, 2023. Ramat Gan, October 15, 2023. (Renee Ghert-Zand/TOI)

For the couple from Elad, the attack on Amichai and his family compounded the trauma of having lost their eldest son Avishai 13 years ago in a terror attack.

Sigalit spoke with The Times of Israel as she and her husband Moshe sat on Sunday in a surgical ward at Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv, where their son was hospitalized.

Shindler had been moved only two days earlier out of the intensive care unit. On Sunday, he was still sedated and intubated, but his mother reported that he was slowly coming to.

“He is communicating with us with his eyes and legs. But he is having terrible nightmares and horrendous pain,” she said.

Shindler’s wife and children survived and were unharmed physically. The wife told her in-laws what had happened on October 7.

While in their saferoom, the family heard people moving around and speaking in their home. Shindler held the fortified room’s door shut tight as his wife and children moved to a far corner. His wife alerted the civil defense team what was happening.

“The terrorists said they were IDF soldiers. They were speaking Hebrew, but Amichai detected their Arabic accent,” Sigalit recounted.

“So Amichai yelled, ‘You are Arabs! Get out of here or I will shoot you!”

Unable to open the saferoom door, the terrorists placed an explosive device next to the door. When it detonated, Shindler, who was holding the door closed from the inside, absorbed the entire force of the blast.

His right forearm was blown off, along with three fingers and two half-fingers on his left hand. His left arm was badly broken, and his face and jaw were crushed.

As members of the civil defense team arrived and engaged in a gun battle with the terrorists, Shindler sat curled up and bleeding but conscious for three and a half hours until help came. His wife recited Psalms loudly as he whimpered quietly so as not to upset the children.

Avi Attar plants trees near the security wall separating Kibbutz Kerem Shalom from Gaza, May 28, 2023. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

When a medic finally arrived, Shindler insisted on getting up and walking to the couch in the living room, where the medic put tourniquets on him and took him to the kibbutz office.

His wife and children were taken to neighbors but were moved to another neighbor when it was learned that the husband of the first neighbor had been killed defending the kibbutz.

“They stayed for two days and were finally evacuated on Sunday night,” Sigalit said.

According to Sigalit, her son has so far undergone five surgeries.

“We are just grateful that his head was not injured and his brain is working. His internal organs were not injured. He has a small injury to his eye, but that will be okay,” Sigalit reported.

“We hope that with God’s help, the support and prayers of Jews here and around the world, and the help of the wonderful doctors, nurses, and all the staff here at Sheba who are doing holy work and embracing us, he will recover,” she said.

Sigalit and Moshe, who live in Elad and are religiously observant, did not even know until the Sabbath and the Simhat Torah holiday had ended on the night of October 7 what had happened.

Amichai Shindler, his wife and children plant trees in Kibbutz Kerem Shalom on the border with Gaza in an undated photo. (Courtesy of Shindler family)

“During the day on Shabbat we were hearing rumors that something was happening in the country, but we didn’t want to believe them,” Sigalit said.

“When our son who is a reserve army medic in the Homefront Command came to tell us what had happened, I almost fainted. It took me back 13 years,” Sigalit shared.

After searching for their son at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba and not finding him, they got word that he was at Sheba and had been identified by photo. They rushed to him and have not left his bedside since.

“There is no other nation in the world that would have put up with the rockets Hamas has launched against us in the last decades. We are too humanitarian — but no more,” Shindler’s father Moshe said.

“We are a strong and good nation, but it is time to respond the way we need to. We don’t hate anyone, but they have to live in peace with us if they are to live next to us,” he said.

Sigalit agreed that this time the war must end decisively.

“There cannot be a situation where an Israeli citizen sits in his own home on Shabbat or a holiday and terrorists enter their home to butcher them or take them hostage,” she said.

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