The husband of a Canadian who was taken hostage during the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack in Israel is dead, according to an announcement from the kibbutz where the couple lived.
Gadi Haggai, a dual American-Israeli citizen, lived with his wife, Judith Weinstein Haggai, in Kibbutz Nir Oz.
“A sharp person, a gifted wind instrument player since the age of three, connected to the earth, a chef and a follower of sports and a healthy vegan diet,” says a translation of a Facebook statement posted by the kibbutz on Friday.
Gadi, 73, was the father of four and grandfather of seven, the statement says.
Judith’s whereabouts are unknown, Reuters reported, although the Hostages and Missing Families Forum says that she is still in captivity in Gaza.
“Gadi’s body is still being held by Hamas in Gaza,” the group, which advocates on behalf of hostages and their families, said in a Facebook post.
The kibbutz said Judith, 70, is wounded in Hamas captivity.
Gadi was a retired chef and musician. His wife was born in New York State and moved to Toronto when she was three years old. She is a retired English teacher and has lived in Israel since 1995.
Gadi “was a man full of humour who knew how to make everyone around him laugh,” the missing families statement says. “A musician at heart, a gifted flautist, he played in the (Israel Defense Forces) Orchestra and was involved with music his whole life.”
The Times of Israel reported that the couple were out for their morning walk when Hamas breached the border between Israel and Gaza on Oct. 7. In the attack that followed, some 1,200 people were killed, which in turn sparked the deadliest war since Israel was founded 75 years ago.
Since Oct. 7, 401 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the fighting in Gaza. More than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli bombing campaigns, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza. While that figure cannot be verified, when the death toll surpassed 15,000 less than three weeks ago, Israel Defense Forces officials said that figure was probably accurate.
Gadi “went out with his wife Judy for their regular morning walk around the fields and vineyards of the kibbutz” on Oct. 7, the missing families forum statement says.
Iris Weinstein Haggai, the couple’s daughter, said that on the day of the attack, her mother had been phoning for help from a paramedic, who relayed what he knew to the family.
“She (told the paramedic) they were shot by terrorists on a motorcycle and that my dad was wounded really bad,” Weinstein Haggai told the Times of Israel. “Paramedics tried to send her an ambulance. The ambulance got hit by a rocket.”
“The reality is we don’t know whether Judi is dead or alive,” said Ali Weinstein, her niece, on CBC late last month.
At the time, Ali said they were “fairly certain” that Gadi had been “murdered” on Oct. 7. Judith, her niece said, had been shot in the arm and face on Oct. 7.
“We know that they were never found. We know that they are in Gaza, most likely,” Ali said.
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