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Eliyahu Margalit

75

Eliyahu“Churchill” Margalit, a grandfather of three from Kibbutz Nir Oz, was a true cowboy at heart, and for many years, he managed the cattle branch and the horse stables of his kibbutz. He arrived in Nir Oz alongside a group of youngsters from the HaShomer HaTzair youth movement, aiming to establish a flourishing kibbutz there. Churchill fell hard for the kibbutz life, pouring his heart and soul into the work, especially caring for his animals, and managed to carve out a decent living for himself and his beloved family: his wife Daphna and their three children: Noa, Danny, and Nili.
His friend Chovav Ozerad said, "I met Eli in 1996 when I started managing the Nir Oz calf department, which Eli (Eliyahu) had established and managed for years. Eli was a man with a big heart who loved Nir Oz, loved animals, and especially the horses in the local stable where he spent much of his free time.” All of Churchill’s horses were, in fact, mares.
On Saturday October 7, Kibbutz Nir Oz was heavily attacked; a quarter of its residents were kidnapped or murdered. In the morning hours, terrorists and Gazan civilians invaded residents’ homes as well as the public kibbutz grounds, roaming around and destroying everything in their way.
On that dreadful Saturday at 7:30AM, Churchill insisted on going to the pasture, heading to the stable to check on the mares, and never came back. His daughter Nili Margalit, aged 41, was kidnapped from the safety of her home by a couple of armed Gazans. Nili endured 55 days in Hamas captivity until her release, as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement.

Tragically, the day after Nili's return home, the family was informed about the death of Eliyahu ‘Churchill’ Margalit, who had been murdered by Hamas terrorists on October 7 and kidnapped to Gaza. His remains are still held in the hands of the terror organization.
Nili said in an interview that she was not surprised to learn about her father’s murder. She somehow knew, she felt it all along, as she described; knowing his strong, rugged nature, she anticipated resistance from him. In the kibbutz’s horse stable, many bloodstains were found. Along with him, Churchill’s mares were also taken into Gaza.

His friend Gilad Sharon published a beautiful farewell letter to Churchill. Following, a selection of segments from the letter:
“Churchill was something like a western Negev version of ‘Zorba the Greek’. Everyone was beguiled by the man who had nothing but love for animals and the innocent heart of a child inside a large frame with an unkempt beard.
“... In addition to his biological family—Daphna and the children Noa, Danny, and Nili, who was released from captivity in Gaza—he had another family: his equestrian crowd. The group meant a lot to Churchill and the rest of the guys. They had been friends for decades, brought together by a love for horses that united them like brothers. People who seemingly had little in common in their everyday lives formed a lasting bond from hours in the saddle and shared meals before, after, and even during the ride. Horseback outings both in Israel and abroad; they were planning a trip to Iceland next summer.
“Churchill and I shared a deep love for horses, dogs, cattle, and sheep. We spoke of the things that interested us: births in the herd, the amount of rain, the crops, the price of lambs and calves, and the cost of feed. We had long telephone conversations when I went to feed the horses. Like me, Churchill had been feeding his horses his whole life. That is also the way he died.

“What on Earth possessed you to go feed the horses at 7:30 in the morning on that abominable Saturday? The whole kibbutz was in flames, with terrorists everywhere, and Churchill went to the stables instead of staying with Daphna and his granddaughter Romi in the secure room in their home. There he was slaughtered by the barbarians, next to the horses he loved. He just couldn’t let them go hungry.”
The full article can be viewed on the following link: https://www.ynetnews.com/magazine/article/ryt2qtdip


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