More than 4,000 people have died in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas after the terror group carried out a brutal attack on Oct. 7, which included the slaughter of more than 1,400 Israelis in communities surrounding Gaza. The deaths also include 260 attendees of a music festival that Hamas terrorists killed that same day.
In addition to the rising death toll, at least 199 others, including children, were captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza, according to the Israeli government. The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,750 Palestinians have been killed and 9,700 wounded.
While the identities of all those who have been killed in the violence or taken hostage by the terror group are unknown to the public, the Israeli government has identified several victims as: a daughter who initially decided not to go to the Tribe of Nova music festival but changed her mind at the last minute, an Israeli jewelry designer described as “the softest soul,” an elderly couple married more than 50 years, a third-generation Israeli soldier, and many others.
As officials have identified those who died, remain missing or those taken hostage by Hamas, surviving family members have begun to shed light on who they were, their personalities and their lives.
A dancing daughter texted her family, ‘I am not coming home’
Karin Journo, 24, recently fractured her leg and talked herself out of going with her friends to the Tribe of Nova music festival on Saturday, Oct 7. Content with her decision, she even sold her ticket. However, a week before the event, she changed her mind — a decision that changed her life forever.
That same morning, as about 3,500 young Israelis had come to the venue for a joyous night of electronic music to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, dancing and singing together, dozens of Hamas terrorists had blown through Israel’s heavily fortified separation fence, crossed into the country from Gaza and opened fire on the crowd.
At 8:43 that Saturday morning, the 24-year-old French-Israeli airport worker sent a final text to her loved ones.
According to her father, Doron Journo, the text read, “To the whole family, I want to say that I love you a lot, because I am not coming home.”
“Since that message, we have heard nothing. We don’t know if she is dead, if she is in Gaza. We know nothing,” the father told The Associated Press.
“My daughter didn’t go to war,” he says. “She just went to dance.”
An Israeli jewelry designer with the ‘softest soul’ remains missing
Moran Stela Yanai’s jewelry reflected cultures around the world as she embedded delicate pearls into silver and stainless steel chains. However, she has not had a chance to revisit her art after she went to the desert rave on Saturday and was among hundreds who remain missing after Hamas terrorists attacked.
Days before the music festival, Yanai posted a video on Instagram on her way to the rave, and she has not been seen since, her family said.
Yanai’s brother-in-law, Dan Mor, said Thursday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he had a tough time describing her in the past tense, but that is the reality the family faces after members recognized her in a video on TikTok being carried away by Hamas.
“Moran is the softest soul,” recalled Mor, whose wife, Lea, is Yanai’s sister. “She could almost be annoying with how much she was so kind and sensitive to animals. You couldn’t eat meat next to her because she was so sensitive to animals being harmed.”
He added, “My beautiful dear sister-in-law, auntie to my kids. She had a big heart, she has a big heart, and I’m hoping that heart is still pumping.”
A grandfather killed by Hamas and a grandmother taken captive
Adina Moshe, 72, and her husband of more than 50 years, David, huddled together in a bomb shelter in a kibbutz near the Israel-Gaza border when Hamas fired rockets onto civilian communities on Oct. 7.
The terrorists then invaded the surrounding communities, indiscriminately attacking civilians, including the Moshe family in kibbutz Nir Oz.
Adina’s granddaughter, Anat Moshe, 25, said in a telephone interview Thursday that her family viewed a video of Adina Moshe in a red shirt being driven off on a motorbike by Hamas terrorists from her home.
Anat said her grandmother had had heart surgery a year ago and has not been heard from since the Hamas insurgency. The fighters also had killed her grandfather, she said.
“They were so in love, you don’t know how in love they were,” she said. Adina “would make him his favorite food, Iraqi food. Our Shabbat table was always so full,” the granddaughter said.
Adina and David’s romance and family started in Nir Oz, after the two first met at the community pool.
A teenage Israel Defense Forces soldier remains missing
Roni Eshel, a 19-year-old Israel Defense Forces soldier, assured her mother that she was busy but OK in a text message roughly three hours after the Hamas attack started last Saturday.
“I love you so much,” Eschel told her mother, Sharon, hours after Hamas terrorists launched the deadliest attack in Israel’s 75-year history.
More than a week later, her parents still have not heard from her.
Her father, Eyal Eshel, said that waiting on any updates on his daughter has been “hell.”
“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to think, actually. Where is she? What is she eating? If it’s cold for her? If it’s hot? I don’t know nothing,” Eyal Eshel told The Associated Press.
Roni Eshel worked in a communications unit at a base near Nahal Oz and only returned to work the Wednesday before the attack.
Eyal said his daughter was proud to be the third generation of her family to join the Israeli military. Her father, uncle and grandfather also served.
“She was very happy to serve the country,” her father said.
She was three months into her second year of mandatory military service.
The death toll and the number of missing persons reported by Israeli government continue to increase more than a week after the terror attack. Both figures are expected to continue to rise as Israeli Defense Forces prepare a ground invasion into Gaza.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.