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Hundreds Mourn As Israeli Family Of 5 That Was Slain Together Is Laid To Rest

GAN YAVNE, Israel (AP) — An Israeli family of five whose bodies were discovered in each other’s arms after being killed by Hamas militants were buried together in a funeral attended by hundreds of mourners.

Family and friends bid farewell Tuesday to the Kotz family — a couple and their three children who were gunned down in their home at kibbutz Kfar Azza during the Oct. 7 Hamas invasion of southern Israel. They were buried side by side in a graveyard 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Jerusalem.

Aviv and Livnat Kotz, their daughter, Rotem, and sons, Yonatan and Yiftach, were found dead on a bed embracing each other, a family member said.

The family had moved to Israel from Boston and built the home four years ago at the kibbutz where Aviv had grown up, his wife’s sister, Adi Levy Salma, told the Israeli news outlet Ynet.

“We told her it’s dangerous, but she did not want to move away, as it was her home for life,” Levy Salma said.

With Israel simultaneously in a state of war and mourning, the funeral was one of many being held.

Mourners gather around the five coffins of the Kotz family during their funeral in Gan Yavne, Israel, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. The family was killed by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 at their house in Kibbutz Kfar Azza near the border with the Gaza Strip, More than 1,400 people were killed and some 200 captured in an unprecedented, multi-front attack by the militant group that rules Gaza. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Mourners gather around the five coffins of the Kotz family during their funeral in Gan Yavne, Israel, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. The family was killed by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 at their house in Kibbutz Kfar Azza near the border with the Gaza Strip, More than 1,400 people were killed and some 200 captured in an unprecedented, multi-front attack by the militant group that rules Gaza. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

More than 3,400 people have been killed on the Palestinian side, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and funerals there have been a fixture of daily life, with men running through streets carrying bodies in white sheets and shouting “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great.”

In Israel, grieving family members and friends bid farewell to Shiraz Tamam, an Israeli woman who was among at least 260 people gunned down as heavily armed militants stormed an electronic music festival.

Mourners, most wearing black tops and some in sunglasses, wiped away tears and held each other as they said goodbye to Tamam before her shroud-wrapped body was buried at a cemetery in Holon, in central Israel.

With more than 1,400 killed in Israel and many still unidentified, the funerals will continue for days or longer as the nation tries to cope with the trauma of the attacks that exposed glaring weaknesses in a defense system some thought impenetrable.

Many families awoke on the day of the attacks to air raid sirens and rockets sailing overhead.

Adi Levy Salma said her family rushed to their safe room at their home in Gedera and she texted her sister to see if she was OK.

But Livnat Kotz didn’t reply and didn’t answer phone calls. Levy Salma was more concerned when her niece, Rotem, didn’t respond.

“Then we started getting reports of terrorists who infiltrated the kibbutz,” Levy Salma said. “It was at that moment we realized something bad had happened. Their friends and neighbors picked up, but they didn’t. We were very worried.”

At the Kotz family’s funeral, soldiers and civilians sobbed. Graves were piled high with flowers.

Livnat died a week short of her 50th birthday, her sister said. She worked to popularize old crafts and incorporate them into the school system. Her husband was a vice president at Kafrit Industries, a plastics manufacturer, the company said.

Rotem was a military training instructor in the Israeli Defense Forces. The boys played basketball at the Hapoel Tel Aviv Youth Academy.

“Amazing children with enormous hearts,” Levy Salma said. “Their whole lives were ahead of them.”


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