Moment Israel launches air strikes on Islamic University in Gaza
An American-Israeli teenager has revealed he watched Hamas militants murder both his parents and how he hid under a bloody cloth in fear they would return to kill him too.
Rotem Mathias, 16, was in Holit Kibbutz – where he lived with his parents and siblings – when Hamas stormed the area on Saturday.
His family tried to barricade themselves inside a house during the attack, but gunmen shot bullets and threw grenade.
His mother, Deborah, had thrown her body onto his and bore the brunt of the gunfire in a heroic effort.
Mathias said in an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America on Wednesday: “The terrorists shot open the door. They throw a grenade or something that exploded. The last thing my dad said is he lost his arm and then my mom died on top of me.”
Mathias recalled how he hid in fear after his parents died: “I just stopped my breathing, I lowered it down as much as I possibly could. I didn’t move. I was terrified. I didn’t make any noise.
“And I prayed for any god – I didn’t really care which god – I just prayed for a god that they won’t find me.”
Hamas later returned and set fire to the kibbutz to determine whether there were any survivors of their shootings.
Mathias managed to escape both their gunfire and flames. He was later reunited with other family members.
Ilan Troen, Mathias’ grandfather, said: “They came back. This is so important – they wanted to verify that they had killed everybody so they set the fire. This is a story that comes from the Holocaust – they set the fire to ensure if there were any survivors they would exit and they could murder them.”
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In a previous interview, Troen – who is a professor at Brandeis University in Massachusetts – said Hamas’ attack had been “rehearsed and carefully planned”.
He said: “This is not a normal war. We were on the phone with Deborah as she was killed. We were on the phone with our grandson Rotem as he first laid under her body – then as he found a way to escape.
“This is not a military event – this is not a military strike. It’s when a military strikes at civilians. This attack was rehearsed, well planned, carried out.
“You look at what they are doing, taking hostages. From infants to senior citizens. This is a human rights outrage that really echoes the kind of programs that made my grandparents leave Europe for the safety of America.”
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Troen added that his grandson will recover from the physical wounds of the attack, but he will be traumatized for the rest of his life.
He said: “Rotem will be fine. The brunt of the shot was born by his mother – it penetrated his stomach but missed any vital organs.
“He is 16; he is tough and resilient. He survived this and he will survive more but the trauma of this will last his lifetime.”
At least 14 Americans have been killed in Israel so far and at least 20 are missing.
The Biden administration has promised unreserved support of Israel as it mounts its defense against Hamas’ attack.
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