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Holit Kibbutz Tragedy: Brave Mother Sacrifices Life to Protect Son During Hamas Attack

In a heartbreaking and devastating incident, the Matias family of Holit kibbutz has been left shattered after a brutal attack by Hamas militants claimed the lives of both parents, leaving their 16-year-old son Rotem injured and traumatized. The attack on the Nova music festival has sent shockwaves across Israel, reminiscent of a pattern of slaughter not seen since the Holocaust.

Last Saturday morning, Rotem, the youngest member of the Matias family, sent a chilling message to his relatives: “Mum and Dad are dead. Sorry. Call help.” At that moment, he was under a quilt soaked in his mother Shachar Matias's blood, who had used her body as a shield to protect her son during the Hamas gunmen's invasion of their home.

The assailants had forced their way into the family's home, and inside their safe room, Shachar courageously ordered Rotem to take cover under layers of fabric before lying on top of him. Rotem, while concealed from the attackers, helplessly listened to the harrowing sounds of explosions, gunshots, and the agonizing screams of his father, who suffered grievous injuries.

The attackers displayed a horrifying lack of humanity, even laughing at their own heinous acts. Rotem, injured from the attack himself, managed to send a brief message to his family, imploring them for help. However, it took over seven hours for rescuers to arrive, leaving Rotem alone, terrified, and injured in a house with the lifeless bodies of his beloved parents.

Shachar Matias was a woman of immense talent and kindness, a singer, poet, and songwriter known for her love of music. She, along with her husband Shlomi, had dedicated their lives to education, peace activism, and cultural exchange. They were founders of a bilingual school focused on teaching children in Hebrew and Arabic under the banner of "Jewish Arab Education for Equality." In response to previous violence, they had even organized peace festivals, releasing balloons with messages of harmony.

Aron Troen, Shachar's brother, spoke of her unwavering belief in human goodness and dignity, which guided her and her husband's lives. He now grapples with the stark contrast between their principles and the brutal manner of their deaths.

The attack on Holit kibbutz and other kibbutzim has rekindled memories of an older pattern of slaughter. Aron Troen referred to this as the "largest pogrom since the Holocaust" and passionately called for a strong response against Hamas in Gaza.

In the aftermath of his mother's tragic death, Rotem spent a harrowing hour under her lifeless body, struggling to breathe in a smoke-filled room as the attack had sparked a fire. He communicated with family members via text messages, attempting to manage his injuries and his rapidly deteriorating situation.

Rotem's sisters, Shir and Shakked, also had their own homes on the kibbutz and were hiding in safe rooms. The young family members faced agonizing uncertainty as they dealt with intermittent mobile coverage and the fear that their sisters had suffered the same fate.

Finally, after enduring hours of uncertainty and trauma, Rotem was rescued and taken to the hospital. His sisters, Shir and Shakked, who miraculously emerged unharmed physically but emotionally devastated, were reunited with him.

The Matias family faces a long and difficult journey to recovery, not only from the loss of their parents but from the profound impact on their community, where friends and neighbors have been killed or taken hostage. Rotem, in particular, remains haunted by the fear of Hamas sleeper cells within Israel, and he struggles with physical and emotional pain.

In the midst of this unimaginable tragedy, Rotem clings to the idea of returning to the kibbutz and honoring his parents with his life, despite the immense challenges he faces.

"For a while I wanted to die, I was thinking of suicide," he said. "I decided it wasn't the greatest idea because my parents sacrificed their lives for me."

The Matias family's story is a stark reminder of the human cost of violence and the resilience of the human spirit, even in the face of unimaginable tragedy. The community of Holit kibbutz and the nation of Israel now grieve with them, united in their determination to prevent such horrors from happening again.

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