Published On: Fri, Nov 10th, 2023

‘My fiancée threw himself on a grenade to save me from Hamas attack’ | World | News

The family of an Israeli man who leapt on a grenade to save his fiancee during the Hamas massacre say they no longer feel safe, adding: “It’s like the Holocaust all over again.”

Netta Epstein, 21, was killed when terrorists cornered him and his partner Irene Shavit in their Kafr Aza apartment.

After being slashed by shrapnel from two grenades tossed into their safe room, Netta covered the third with his body to absorb the impact.

Irene, 22, said: “The grenade rolled over to me and Netta jumped on it while yelling ‘grenade’. This is what you do in the army. If you can’t hide or run, you jump on it to save others.”

Irene escaped but later returned, refusing to leave Netta’s body for fear that Hamas would take it. She hid under a bed for five hours until Israeli troops arrived.

READ MORE: Hamas militants ‘wearing Israeli army uniforms to disguise themselves’

Netta and Irene had been together for 18 months and both finished two years of mandatory service in the Israel Defence Forces this summer.

They were due to be married in April. She visited the UK this week with his parents and two sisters to mark what would have been his 22nd birthday on Thursday.

Irene had booked the surprise trip for him to watch his favourite football team, Liverpool, play Brentford on Sunday.

While hiding in the safe room, Irene asked if he wanted to know what she had planned. Netta replied: “Tell me tomorrow.”

Irene said they would remember Netta with “love and peace” in their hearts at the match. She added: “I hope he will be with me, explaining what I’m watching because I don’t know anything about football.”

Speaking in London ahead of their trip north, Netta’s relatives relived the horrific events of October 7, when 59 people were killed in their quiet village. They lost five family members in total.

Ayelet Shachar-Epstein, Netta’s mother, said 18 people were also taken hostage, including a three-year-old girl whose parents were killed in front of her.

They recalled how the words Tzeva Adom – meaning “red colour” – rang out from loudspeakers in Kafr Aza at 6.30am.

Netta’s mother, Ayelet Shachar-Epstein, heard that her mother-in-law had fallen outside her home and ran in her pyjamas to help. Upon arrival, she realised the 81-year-old had been shot in the back.

Ayelet, 50, said she was “disappointed” by the world’s response to the barbaric terror attacks. She described how people had questioned whether it really happened or sought to justify the murders.

Ayelet, who now wears Netta’s watch on her left wrist, said: “Kfar Aza is a peace-loving community situated within the legitimate borders of Israel. It’s not an occupied territory. Maybe people are mistaken about that.

“Has the world gone crazy? We’ve gone through this terrible terror against us and now we need to explain? It makes me so angry.”

Asked if they felt safe in the UK, Irene and Ayelet said “no”. They do not speak Hebrew in public or wear anything that could identify them as Jewish.

Ayelet urged Britons to show their support for Israel and “realise how awful the things we went through are”.

She added: “If I could only wave my magic wand and open everybody’s eyes. You need to see what happened.

“It’s not Israel who’s the aggressor. Peace-loving people were caught in their homes and slaughtered.”

Netta’s sister Rona, 19, said she and her brother took part in a 56-mile march a few years ago, calling for peace and the right of young people to “grow up quietly” without living in fear.

She added: “Hamas had been shooting rockets at us for 20 years but I never thought they could walk into my safe kibbutz and just murder us one by one.

“It’s like the Holocaust all over again. I feel really broken. People around the world that I share the same liberal values with, peace-loving…now I see these people coming against me.

“Why? Because I’m Jewish. I don’t get it, how people that are supposed to support peace and love support violence and murder.”

Rona added that protestors who call for Palestine to be “freed” from Israel should direct their anger against Hamas.

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