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Amit Shani

16

Amit Shani, a 16-year-old high school junior from Kibbutz Be'eri is a blend of creativity and athleticism. Described by his father as "a bit of a dreamer but certainly not a nerd," Amit's life is a mix of film studies, music, and a love for sports. Whether it's surfing the waves, skateboarding, or cheering for Juventus, Amit throws himself into each activity with passion. His musicality shines through his guitar playing, and his deep connection to the Israeli hip-hop scene.
On the holiday of Simchat Torah, October 7, Kibbutz Be’eri faced a horrific attack by Hamas terrorists, marking a day of unprecedented violence that shocked Israel. Amid this chaos, Amit was with his mother and sisters at home. Early that morning, the calm was shattered by alarms and the sounds of gunfire and explosions. Amit's father, living separately within the kibbutz, reported the terrorists attempted to break into his safe room while setting his house on fire.
Terrorists eventually broke into Amit's mother's safe room. In a brave attempt to defend his family, Amit confronted one of the attackers but was urged by his mother to stop, fearing for his safety. The family was then forcibly taken to a communal area where they were separated. Amit, stoically facing the situation, was taken away with his neighbor Yossi Sharabi (53) and his guest, 17-year-old Ofir Engel, leaving his family in despair and uncertainty about his fate.
Despite their ordeal, Amit's family remained hopeful, knowing his resilience and spirit. "I never thought we'd be taken captive," Amit reflected after his release. He was convinced he was being taken to be executed. Amit even considered escaping during their transport to Gaza, a testament to his courage in the face of fear. He soon realized there was no chance, as the roads were crowded with terrorists and Gazan civilians looting, abducting people, and moving freely in and out of the kibbutz.

Their captivity in Gaza was marked by deprivation and threats from armed terrorists. Despite the hardship, Amit, Yossi Sharabi, and Ofir Engel supported each other, finding solace in their shared struggle for survival, while Yossi, a kind and warm man, took on a protective, fatherly role.
Freed after 54 days in Hamas captivity as part of a temporary ceasefire, Ofir and Amit's return was bittersweet. The kibbutz was burned down, there was no home, no school. Many kibbutz members were murdered, including classmates. Out of a class of 15 children, three were brutally killed, and two were abducted (Amit and 17-year-old Noam Or). Tragically, kibbutz Be’eri announced on Tuesday January 16th the murder of Yossi Sharabi by Hamas. This news was particularly hard for Amit to process and accept.
Amit, profoundly affected by the tragedy, continues to advocate for the release of those still captive, emphasizing the urgent need for action: "They are not held by people who care - Hamas won't hesitate to kill them. Everything must be done to secure their release."

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