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Gal Goldstein Almog

11

Born and raised in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, Gal is the third of Chen and Nadav's four children. He is a charming, witty and endearing kid. Gal has a deep passion for sports, shining particularly bright in soccer as a gifted goalkeeper. His interest in soccer goes well beyond playing; he possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of the game, knowing players and sports stats from around the world, and is an enthusiastic supporter of Maccabi Tel Aviv and the Israeli national team. While soccer captures his heart, basketball also holds a special place, shared with his father and brother.

The tranquility of their kibbutz life took a tragic turn on October 7th when Kibbutz Kfar Aza was attacked by Hamas terrorists with unprecedented violence. Gal was kidnapped from his home with his mother Chen (49) his sister Agam (17), and brother Tal (9). His father, Nadav, and eldest sister, 20-year-old Yam, were murdered at home. Chen, Agam, Gal and Tal described the intense fear they experienced as terrorists invaded their home's safe room, confronting them with the stark reality that they might not survive.
In the harrowing 51 days that followed, Chen and her three children endured captivity under threat, moved between tunnels and a school turned into a rocket launch site, to a mosque and abandoned apartments. The family lived in constant fear and uncertainty.
The devastating news about the demise of beloved Nadav and Yam reached them through an Israeli radio broadcast they overheard one day. "It was the first time Gal, who is 11 and a half, cried," Chen described. "We sort of understood it, but it was hard to hear. Our captors realized we heard something very dramatic. It was a tough moment, we understood the magnitude of what we left behind at home." She described the heart-breaking moment: "We hugged each other, shed some tears.

But we had to stop crying quickly; the guards didn't like it when we cried."
Gal and Tal, who had been deprived of daylight, or a ball, for an extended time, found ways to deal with the intense boredom. They engaged in drawing, writing, and playing games taught by their captors, displaying remarkable resilience and understanding of their circumstances.
Agam recalled moments when armed terrorists sternly commanded: “Quiet down!”, a situation that filled them with fear. She remarked to her mother, highlighting the absurdity of their captors' attempts at discipline, "He's not their dad; he has no right to reprimand them like this."
In the last week of their captivity, the family met other Israelis who were also abducted, hidden in ’Lower Gaza’. This encounter created a deep feeling of solidarity and kinship. They met several young women, as young as 19, who had suffered extreme abuse and violation. The family recounted how the terrorists ominously warned them about returning to Kfar Aza, saying, "They said, 'We love you, don't go back home. They ominously declared having plans, clearly stating they wouldn't yield and were planning more attacks, still fueled by the fervor of October 7th."
The Goldstein Almogs’ eventual release in late November, part of a temporary ceasefire agreement, Harbored one last scare. "Climbing into the Red Cross vehicle while the Gazan civilians were raging all around, angrily throwing stones at us, we feared the worst. The Red Cross staff, defenseless, only heightened our anxiety. We were an easy target" Agam shared.
Chen vividly recalled the moment they were transitioned into the care of Israeli forces: "Suddenly, we found ourselves safely with our people," she said. "Hearing gentle voices and seeing compassionate eyes was profoundly touching. Despite feeling forsaken, that moment of return brought a sense of surrender and relief." She described the bittersweet moment of their release, shadowed by the absence of Yam and Nadav and the knowledge that many remained captive.

Gal's friends warmly and enthusiastically welcomed the news of his safe return on November 26th. Ron Pichovich, Gal's 11-year-old best friend, shared his excitement, saying, "I'm so thrilled! I found out he's back with the IDF. I'm looking forward to seeing him soon. I plan to give him a big hug and catch him up on what he missed—especially telling him he missed the best season ever in Fortnite. But, if he manages to get an Xbox by December 2nd, he'll be just fine."
Gal had an emotional meeting with Avi Nimni, former captain of Maccabi Tel Aviv and the Israeli national football team. Nimni praised Gal and his family's strength and expressed hope for their recovery from their ordeal. He shared plans to support Gal, including inviting him to Maccabi Tel Aviv games, highlighting the importance of long-term support for captives who have returned. Nimni stressed the dual necessity of working to bring home remaining captives while also aiding those who have already returned to adjust to life after captivity.

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