100 days after the Israel-Hamas conflict, a father displays on loss : NPR - News6t

100 days after the Israel-Hamas conflict, a father displays on loss : NPR

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Ilan Troen, a Brandeis College professor emeritus, at his dwelling in Omer, Israel. His daughter and son-in-law, Deborah and Shlomi Mathias, have been killed within the Hamas assault on Oct. 7, 2023.

Tamir Kalifa for NPR


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Tamir Kalifa for NPR


Ilan Troen, a Brandeis College professor emeritus, at his dwelling in Omer, Israel. His daughter and son-in-law, Deborah and Shlomi Mathias, have been killed within the Hamas assault on Oct. 7, 2023.

Tamir Kalifa for NPR

OMER, Israel — 100 days in the past, on Oct. 7, American-Israeli historian Ilan Troen stood over his 16-year-old grandson’s hospital mattress. The bullet that killed his daughter had pierced his grandson’s stomach.

I discovered Troen within the hospital sporting a Brandeis College t-shirt. He was one in every of my professors after I studied there.

Three months later, I visited his dwelling in Israel’s southern desert, the place he’s now retired, to listen to his reflections — as a historian and bereaved father or mother — about Israel’s deadliest day in historical past, and the deadliest conflict that Palestinians have ever confronted, nonetheless ongoing in Gaza.

A basso continuo of unhappiness

“How am I?” Troen asks, on his lounge sofa. “In Baroque music, there’s one thing referred to as the basso continuo. For those who take heed to Bach, there’s that backside line that continues, and my basso continuo is one in every of unhappiness.”

Music was his daughter and son-in-law’s life. Deborah and Shlomi Mathias have been singers who met in music college.

On Oct. 7, attackers from Gaza stormed their dwelling and blew down the door of their strengthened secure room. The dad and mom protected their son, Rotem, with their our bodies, saving his life as they misplaced theirs.

Images of Deborah and Shlomi Mathias with their three youngsters are displayed at Deborah’s dad and mom’ dwelling in Omer, Israel.

Tamir Kalifa for NPR


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Tamir Kalifa for NPR


Images of Deborah and Shlomi Mathias with their three youngsters are displayed at Deborah’s dad and mom’ dwelling in Omer, Israel.

Tamir Kalifa for NPR

Burying them of their dwelling group enveloped in conflict, Kibbutz Holit close to the Gaza border, was out of the query. As a substitute, the household wrestled with one other query: what to write down on their gravestones.

“It was the youngsters who determined that they might not placed on their dad and mom’ headstone what another individuals have carried out…’might God avenge their blood.’ They needed nothing of that,” Troen says.

As a substitute, their three youngsters inscribed the gravestones with musical notes: the opening bars of Brit Olam, or “Eternal Covenant,” a basic Israeli love track that Deborah, who glided by the Hebrew identify Shahar, had sung with Shlomi at their very own marriage ceremony.

“It is a approach of claiming that the years to return…they won’t give attention to the tragic,” Troen says, “However reasonably on the sweetness of their lives.”

Caring for his or her orphaned grandchildren

Rotem, Troen’s 16-year-old grandson who survived the Oct. 7 assault, got here to stick with his grandparents Ilan and Carol after he was launched from the hospital. A day later, Carol was at her lounge desk when he screamed from the opposite room.

“Simply screaming, ‘Why? Why? Why? It is not truthful, it is not truthful, it is not truthful,'” Carol says. “And I screamed again, ‘Why? Why? Why?’ As a result of I needed to reply him…I simply screamed with him.”

Carol Troen at her dwelling in Omer, Israel. Her daughter and son-in-law, Deborah and Shlomi Mathias, have been killed within the Hamas assault on October 7.

Tamir Kalifa for NPR


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Tamir Kalifa for NPR


Carol Troen at her dwelling in Omer, Israel. Her daughter and son-in-law, Deborah and Shlomi Mathias, have been killed within the Hamas assault on October 7.

Tamir Kalifa for NPR

The day I visited the Troens, their grandson was maybe on the lookout for solutions. He was visiting his dwelling in Kibbutz Holit for the primary time since he was attacked inside it. Carol was boiling soup on the range for her three orphaned grandkids. An Israeli warplane roared above.

“It is on its strategy to Gaza,” Troen mentioned.

“Possibly she would perceive”

Greater than 23,000 Palestinians, principally girls and youngsters, have been killed in Gaza within the Israeli bombardment, in line with well being officers there. The conflict got here after Hamas led an ambush on Oct. 7 that killed some 1,200 individuals in southern Israel, in line with Israeli officers.

Now the conflict has reached a crescendo on the world stage. Israel stands accused of genocide on the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice.

“Crimes towards humanity? We have been defending ourselves,” Troen says. “This is not vengeance. That is safety. Self-defense.”

Ilan Troen shows a photograph from 1975 of his household on the land the place they constructed their dwelling in Omer, Israel. Within the picture, Troen holds his daughter Deborah when she was younger. She was killed Oct. 7, 2023.

Tamir Kalifa for NPR


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Tamir Kalifa for NPR


Ilan Troen shows a photograph from 1975 of his household on the land the place they constructed their dwelling in Omer, Israel. Within the picture, Troen holds his daughter Deborah when she was younger. She was killed Oct. 7, 2023.

Tamir Kalifa for NPR

His daughter Deborah believed in the opportunity of peace together with her neighbors. She despatched her youngsters to Hagar, a rare elementary school in Israel’s south, the place Jewish and Arab children research collectively. I requested Troen what his daughter may take into consideration the way in which Israel is waging its conflict in Gaza and its excessive human toll.

“I feel she could be appalled and anxious, perhaps indignant, however perhaps she would perceive,” he says. “If you recognize of a greater approach, kindly inform us, what (is) the higher, cleaner, nicer approach of coping with the form of risk that we’ve to face, that has frequently risen to realize its final divinely-inspired and commanded aim of exterminating us.”

The immeasurable

There’s one thing else Troen has thought of extra deeply for the reason that October seventh assault: Israel’s management over Palestinian lives. His metropolis, Omer, is near the Israeli-occupied West Financial institution, and fewer than 30 miles from the Gaza Strip.

“The capability of 1 nation, nonetheless highly effective it’s, to completely suppress a motion of widespread resistance that’s deeply rooted within the inhabitants isn’t an excellent document,” Troen says. “Palestinians are going to wish to acquire what they so desperately need, which is what we so desperately need, which is a state of our personal.”

Ilan and Carol Troen at their dwelling in Omer, Israel.

Tamir Kalifa for NPR


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Tamir Kalifa for NPR


Ilan and Carol Troen at their dwelling in Omer, Israel.

Tamir Kalifa for NPR

Troen calls it an older perception, beforehand extra summary to him, that turned extra pertinent after Oct. 7 and the times since.

“It is so palpable and visual,” he says. “You are sitting in my home as we speak, which is a 45-second distance in flight time from Gaza by a missile. We may go downstairs, and I may take you to my bomb shelter — 16 inches of strengthened concrete.”

These are the measurements of an insupportable state of battle, alongside the immeasurable losses Troen’s household, and so many others, have endured these final 100 days.

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