Friends and family mourn the loss of Canadians killed by Hamas in Israel

Friends, family and government officials have confirmed that at least six Canadians were killed on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants conducted a series of attacks in Israel. One of those victims has connections to Saskatchewan.

Thousands of people have been killed so far in the conflict sparked by the Hamas attacks, which has escalated as Israel conducts retaliatory strikes on the Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday, Global Affairs confirmed it is providing assistance to six Canadian families following deaths of loved ones, as well as to the families of two other Canadians who are reported missing. The department has not provided any details, citing privacy concerns. 

Here’s what we know about the six victims with ties to Canada identified by friends and family: 

Tiferet Lapidot, an Israeli woman whose parents were Canadian, is seen in an undated handout photo. Lapidot was attending a music festival when the Hamas attack began. Her body was recovered at the concert site on Monday and her funeral was held Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Oran Zlotnik,

Tiferet Lapidot

Tiferet Lapidot, 22, was a few days shy of her 23rd birthday and attending a music festival on Oct. 7 when the Hamas attack began.

Her cousin, Oran Zlotnik, remembered Lapidot as a charismatic, amazing, compassionate person who had travelled the world, taught in Africa and spent time in Australia before she returned to Israel in the fall. 

Her uncle, Harel Lapidot, said she had called her mother the morning of the attack to say she was hiding in a bush and to ask whether she should flee. The 22-year-old’s cellphone was later tracked to the Gaza Strip, leading family to believe she was being held hostage; they mounted a campaign to secure her freedom.

Zlotnik said that when the cellphone of one of Lapidot’s friend’s, confirmed deceased, was also traced to Gaza, the family realized it was possible she wasn’t a hostage.

Harel Lapidot said his niece’s body was identified on Monday and her funeral was held Tuesday.

“We know for a fact they were hunted,” Lapidot said. “They ran away and they were hunted and killed.”

Tiferet Lapidot was an Israeli citizen but her family was from Canada, including her father, Ohad, who was born in Saskatchewan. Harel Lapidot thanked the Jewish community in Canada and MPs who had reached out to help and offer support. The family had a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly while she was in Israel.

Netta Epstein

Israeli-Canadian Netta Epstein, 21, died on Oct. 7 when his home, Kibbutz Kfar Aza, came under attack. 

His mother, Ayelet Shachar-Epstein, said her son loved life. She learned the circumstances of his death from texts messages he had sent her in the moments before he was killed, and from his fiancée, Irene Shavit, who survived.

Epstein was inside a safe room with Shavit; he jumped on a grenade thrown in by the attackers.

Shachar-Epstein, who also lost her mother-in-law and two brothers-in-law in the Hamas attacks, described it as a terrorist invasion. A nephew remains missing, she added.

Shachar-Epstein said her son, who had worked with special needs youth, had returned home two months ago after completing military service. Shachar-Epstein was born in Montreal, and Netta, like her, was a Canadian citizen. She said many members of the family still live in that city.

Epstein’s funeral was held Tuesday in Israel.

Shir Georgy

Israeli Canadian Shir Georgy, 22, was killed by Hamas militants who ambushed a music festival near Kibbutz Re’im, an area near the Israeli border with Gaza.

Georgy’s aunt, Michal Bouganim, has confirmed that her niece died in an assault by Hamas.

“We are currently a mess, heartbroken,” Bouganim said in a Facebook message.

Bouganim shared a 22-second clip on her social media in which terrified Georgy was seen sitting on a floor, with her back against a wall and surrounded by other festival attendees — some of them injured.

Georgy’s funeral was held in Israel.

Adi Vital-Kaploun

Adi Vital-Kaploun, 33, was killed by Hamas militants in her kibbutz near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, the Jewish Federation of Ottawa confirmed. 

The group’s CEO made a statement on behalf of Vital-Kaploun’s family last week, saying the dual citizen has a large extended family in the Ottawa area. 

Vital-Kaploun’s family said she died a hero, after convincing her killers to spare her two young children and warning her father and husband to stay hidden during the attack. 

“Adi was a beautiful woman that brought love and lightness to the people around her, but also she was very focused and determined to make a beautiful life for her family,” her cousin-in-law Aaron Smith said in an interview.

The family said in the statement she was an amazing mother and wife, always bringing love and laughter to their household. 

She was also a talented dancer, saxophonist and basketball player, their statement said. 

After completing her master’s degree in engineering, Vital-Kaploun excelled in her cybersecurity career, they said. 

“We are mourning trying to process this unconscionable act of terrorism in her kibbutz and across the country,” said the family, adding that they wish her memory to be “a blessing.”

Ben Mizrachi

Canadian Ben Mizrachi was one of at least 260 people gunned down by Hamas militants at the music festival in southern Israel. 

Mizrachi, 22, from Vancouver, was described as “larger than life with a big personality” in a statement by his former high school in B.C. 

Ezra Shanken, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, said Mizrachi was about to start university in Israel after serving with the country’s national defence force. 

Hilit Nurick, a home economics teacher at King David High School in Vancouver, remembered Mizrachi as a “kind, wonderful, and community-minded” young man who had a positive influence on everyone around him.

Nurick said she and Mizrachi once put a large event together for more than 100 people at school.

“He was in charge of making Moroccan-style spicy fish stew. He brought his mother’s recipe and shared it with everyone and taught us how to make it,” said Nurick. “He was incredible, just an incredible human being.”

Alexandre Look

Alexandre Look, who had recently celebrated his 33rd birthday, was among those killed while attending the musical festival.

Look, who lived in Montreal with his family before moving to Mexico, died a hero, his dad said in a Facebook post. 

“Like a true warrior he left as a hero wanting to protect the people he was with,” Alain Haim Look said.

Look’s friend, Lior Horovitz, described him as a “once-in-a-lifetime person” who became like family during their five-year friendship.

In a phone interview from a town outside Tel Aviv, she said she and her boyfriend met Look in Mexico. They became fast friends, and would organize their vacations to meet up, either in Mexico or Israel.

He was a proud Jewish Canadian and a generous person who would do anything for his friends, she said.

“He’s a person who loves people,” she said. “He’s the guy that’s always going to help others, especially if they are Jewish.”

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