After 53 days in Hamas captivity, Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak's daughter, Clara Merman, 63, was released on Tuesday, along with her sister, Gabriella Leimberg, 59, and Gabriella's daughter, Mia Leimberg, 17. That Black Saturday, mother and daughter, who live in Jerusalem, were hosted by Clara. When the attack began, several family members hid in the safe room, the terrorists broke in, broke down and destroyed the house and kidnapped them to Gaza.
Video prepared by kibbutz members for Clara Merman's birthday in the hope of her return from Hamas captivity // Facebook Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak
Sigal Shabelman, a member of Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak who was informed this morning of their release, said emotionally: "I couldn't believe the announcement of Clara's release. It's very exciting to be released, Mia and Gabriella. We will blow balloons in their honor. Clara was my kindergarten teacher. Clara was everyone's kindergarten teacher. She raised us all from the age of zero. The fact that she was kidnapped pinched all of us, and it still pinches. We bought fireworks and balloons, we will launch balloons and most of all we will continue to pray for all the abductees." Sylvia Levin, a kibbutz member, is also looking forward to their arrival: "We are looking forward to the arrival of our friends from Nir Yitzhak, it's an exciting day. Every day we move forward in life, but the fact that we have abductees is hard for us. We're very worried about them, trying to figure out how to help. We just want them to get home quickly and we hope they're okay."
Excitement among Nir Yitzhak evacuees ahead of the release of the abductees // Ran Shauli
Clara was the legendary kindergarten teacher of the kibbutz, and she hosted several family members on that Saturday of October 70th. In addition to her sister and daughter, she was also hosted by her brother Fernando Merman and her boyfriend, <>-year-old Luis Herr, both of whom are currently in captivity. Maayan Sigal-Koren, Clara's daughter, said during the struggle for the shutdown: "The connection between my mother and her two brothers is strong, it's not just that they are together and came to Gaza together. My mother is the hottest woman in the world. She is a kindergarten teacher by profession, and for thirty years she took care of all the children of the kibbutz. I want my mother, and I want my family more than anything because I have to, because she's there, and they're there."
Fernando Merman, 60, from Kfar Saba, Clara's brother. Kidnapped with her, photo: None
Gabriella Leimberg and her daughter Mia live in Jerusalem. Since that Shabbat, Moshe Leimberg has been waiting for his wife and daughter. Gabriella is the director of the SHEKEL Therapeutic Day Center, where she serves as a mother of dozens of children and adults coping with autism and provides a supportive shoulder to many family members waiting for her return. Mia is a twelfth grader at the School of the Arts, majoring in music. In the "Headquarters of the Abductees" project, Eitan, a friend of hers, recently spoke about her kindness: "I came to school in tenth grade, a new child at a difficult time in my life and she took care of me. She's my best friend." A friend of Mia's added: "No matter how many horrors she's going through right now, let her know that there are lots of people waiting for her and thinking about her. That she's not alone."
70-year-old Louis Herr Maori, Clara's boyfriend. Hamas held captive, photo: None
As noted, members of the alert squad, civilians of Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak and their family members who were there that Shabbat still remain in Hamas captivity, and the kibbutz members are waiting for their return as soon as possible: Lior Rudif, 61, married with four children. Tal Haimi, 41, married with three children, his wife is pregnant. Oren Goldin, 33, his family was informed that he had been murdered and his body had been kidnapped. Luis Herr, 70, from Maori, Clara's boyfriend, and Fernando Merman, 60, from Kfar Saba, Clara's brother.
Kibbutz Nirim members also received good news, who were informed this morning that Rimon Kirsht, a kibbutz member married to a kidnapped kibbutz member, is expected to be released from Hamas captivity in the fifth phase. Adele Ramer, who was Rimon's teacher in elementary school: "I saw it in a WhatsApp group in the morning but it wasn't final. We waited until the moment we saw Rimon released to Israel." Along with Rimon, Norlyn Badila, a foreign citizen, the spouse of an Israeli man, who visited Nirim on Black Saturday, is also expected to be released.
Avital Kirsht mother of abducted Rimon Kirscht, photo: Arik Sultan
Avi Dabush, a member of Kibbutz Nirim who coordinates the issue of abductees on the kibbutz, says that this morning the army announced the expected release of the two: "Rimon is originally from Kibbutz Magen and is married to a very good friend, Yagev Buchstev, who was also kidnapped. Unfortunately, they lived in a neighborhood near the fence. We have two other abductees from Nirim whose release we are waiting for."
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