They were last heard from at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday. They were sheltering in their safe room after militants began storming the southern Israel community of Be’eri, where at least 100 people were later found dead.
Now they are gone.
Eviatar Moshe Kipnis, 65, and Lilach Lea Havron, 60, are among the estimated 150 people believed held by Hamas in Gaza. The couple were with their health care aide. Their son, Nadav Kipnis, told The Associated Press that in addition to the couple and their aide, eight members of Havron’s family — including three children — are unaccounted for.
The family believes all 11 were taken to Gaza because their bodies weren’t recovered and because some of their cell phones have been traced there. Fears are high especially for the father, who uses a wheelchair, takes medications and needs regular hospital care.
The Kipnis family has Italian citizenship through a paternal grandmother who hailed from Leghorn and moved to Israel, via Tunisia, after the Holocaust.
For now, all the family has to go on are are the messages and videos contained in a “nightmarish” group chat of Be’eri neighbors who described in real time as the militants went door to door, flushing people from their safe rooms, sometimes by setting their houses on fire, Nadav Kipnis said.
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani traveled to Egypt on Wednesday to drum up regional Arab support to liberate Italian hostages. Three Italian-Israelis are unaccounted for — the couple and a young man reportedly injured at the music festival massacre.
Nadav Kipnis says he’s grateful for the Foreign Ministry’s attention, saying Italian officials had been in regular contact with him since Saturday. He told AP: “I hope that with the help of the ministry, my family and the rest of the hostages will return home soon.”