Yonatan Lulu-Shamriz’s daughter was celebrating her second birthday on Oct. 7 in Israel. Inside the safe room of their home 1 mile from the border of Gaza, Lulu-Shamriz’s little girl was delighted that she was allowed to eat her birthday cake with her fingers as her parents had not had time to grab forks as they fled into the safe room. The child was unaware of the Hamas terrorists outside, and her parents did everything they could to ensure it stayed that way.
“I told her that we were going to play a game,” Lulu-Shamriz said, “the whisper game, that if we whisper, we get the balloons after.”
For the 22 hours he, his 7-month pregnant wife, his daughter, and their two dogs were in the safe room, they tried to remain as silent as possible, and if his daughter started to sing or talk loudly, he reminded her of the game and the prize of balloons if she remained quiet.
After being in the safe room for a few hours, Lulu-Shamriz, who is 33 and the oldest among three boys, received a text from his 26-year-old brother Alon Lulu-Shamriz telling the family he heard Hamas terrorists in his house.
“I wrote him that I love him, and he’s strong, and this is the last time we spoke,” Lulu-Shamriz told The Daily Signal during a recent interview.
Lulu-Shamriz’s youngest brother was taken hostage by Hamas during the attack in October. At first, the family thought he was among the 1,200 Israelis killed in the terrorist attack, but later, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed that he was taken hostage.
Lulu-Shamriz and his brother Ido Lulu-Shamriz, 32, recently traveled from Israel to Washington, D.C., to share their story and advocate for their little brother and the release of about 240 hostages being held in Gaza.
The oldest Lulu-Shamriz said he and his family have not found any peace since his little brother was kidnapped, but instead said he feels “blame all the time.”
“You wear these clothes, you eat food, you go to bed, you brush your teeth in the morning, and you always ask yourself if Alon get the same conditions,” the oldest brother said. “When you put your blanket at night, you ask yourself, ‘Is Alon cold now?'”
Ido Lulu-Shamriz, the middle brother, had a different experience on Oct. 7. The middle brother is part of the civilian emergency squad in his kibbutz near the Gaza border in Israel. Every kibbutz near the Gaza Strip has a civilian squad that can respond to threats until the Israel Defense Forces arrives, Ido Lulu-Shamriz explained.
Around 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 7, Ido Lulu-Shamriz received a message from a squad member that someone had parachuted into his kibbutz with a gun. He then started to hear missiles go off and alarms sound and realized that “this is not just the missile attack.”
“This is something unique, something that never happened to us,” he said.
Ido Lulu-Shamriz and the members of his civilian emergency squad were instructed via a group WhatsApp message to go to the shelter in the kibbutz where their guns are stored. He reached the shelter and got his gun and he and the other squad members began to fight “dozens of terrorists around the shelter,” he recalled.
“Seven of my friends were killed,” Ido Lulu-Shamriz added. “Seven of them fought shoulder to shoulder with me, and the other seven guys survived.”
“At the beginning, we thought about attack,” he said, but “then you realize you need to defend because there are so many, they were everywhere. And then you realize it’s self-defense, you know, everyone needs to rescue himself before you’re going to be dead like your friends.”
Ido Lulu-Shamriz and his good friend retreated back to his house, but before they made it to safety, Ido Lulu-Shamriz saw that his neighbor’s door was open. His neighbors, a husband and wife, had two 10-month-old twins.
“When I saw the door open, I realized that they are not with us anymore,” he said, bluntly.
Ido Lulu-Shamriz entered the safe room in his home with his friend and initially believed that Hamas terrorists had killed the parents and their twin babies. Later, however, through the walls of the safe room, they heard the babies crying. “They didn’t stop for 12 hours,” the middle brother said.
He sent a message to Israel Defense Forces soldiers alerting them to the twin babies, but “they didn’t reach them for 12 hours, 12 hours that I’m hearing those twins crying nonstop while their parents are dead between their beds.”
Reflecting on the events of Oct. 7, Ido Lulu-Shamriz added, “Nothing can prepare you for those moments, you know, for such a battle, such a sight to fight with your best friends that are now alive and a couple of minutes later, they are dead. It’s terrible. You can’t prepare for those moments in your life.”
When asked what message they have for President Joe Biden and America’s leaders, Yonatan Lulu-Shamriz, the eldest brother, said America needs to put “pressure on Qatar” because the nation has a “direct channel to Hamas” and Qatar could play a role in negotiating the release of the hostages.
Victoria Coates, vice president of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal that “Qatar does have leverage with Hamas.” But Coates noted that the hostage negotiations are complex and that there is no simple answer to moving negotiations forward. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of Heritage.)
Yonatan Lulu-Shamriz said he hopes U.S. citizens understand that what “happened in Israel on the seventh of October, it’s not aimed only for Jews, for Israelis, and Zionists.”
“They killed everyone,” he said, referring to Hamas. “They kill Thai people, they kill Americans, they killed Russian, and Europe is next. America is next.”
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