Simchat Torah in Kerem Shalom began with joint celebrations of all the residents, both secular and religious. In addition to the kibbutz members, guests from all over the country arrived.
The prayers and dances proceeded as usual, and at one of the rounds, Moshe Yedidya Razi'el stood in the center of the circle and began to lead a magnificent rendition of the song "Am Yisrael Chai," which shook the floor and included jumps to the height of the tradition. After the dances, everyone dispersed to their homes for a holiday meal, looking forward to the celebrations of the following day.
At 6:30 in the morning, red alert sirens were heard throughout the kibbutz, and the members of the emergency squad began to gather at the familiar location from previous drills.
Amichai and Yedidya formed an organic duo
Amichai Yisrael Witzan didn't hesitate for a moment and said to those present in the house, "This is exactly why we trained in the preparatory program class." Nine members of the emergency squad prepared to spread out within the kibbutz along with six additional soldiers who reinforced the group. Right after the gathering, Eliya Ben Shimol, the security officer of Kerem Shalom, divided the force into pairs, with Yedidya and Amichai forming an organic pair.
Dozens of terrorists who crossed the fence in the area near Kerem Shalom infiltrated the kibbutz and began to engage in clashes with the members of the emergency squad. Kerem Shalom consists of individual family homes scattered over a relatively large area, totaling around 35 occupied houses. The defense system spread from the entrance of the settlement to the last of the houses.
During the first few hours of the battles, members of the emergency squad neutralized a large number of terrorists. The battles continued for 6 hours without assistance, apart from the force consisting of 15 fighters.
"So the children can dance for Simchat Torah today"
In one of the confrontations near Yedidya Razi'el's house, his wife and children heard exchanges of gunfire between Amichai, Yedidya, and the terrorists. After a few moments, there was silence, and Yedidya shouted to his wife from the window, "I'm okay, everyone is okay!" Even in this encounter, several terrorists were killed. In WhatsApp voice messages sent by Amichai to his wife during the fight, he sounded calm and reassured her. He emphasized that she should make sure the children feel good and dance because it was Simchat Torah today. He told her to give them all the treats in the kitchen. They maintained full control both in their combat mission and their parental duty.
After several hours of combat, one of the terrorists surprised Amichai Israel and Moshe Yedidya from behind, and they were killed. At 13:00, an IDF reinforcement arrived to assist the emergency squad, and by the evening hours, the forces managed to gain full control over the settlement.
Amichai was father of five, Yedidya was father of three
In the summary of the day, the members of the emergency squad in Kerem Shalom successfully repelled the attack with exceptional bravery from all the fighters and families. During the battle, two members of the emergency squad were killed, Amichai Israel Witzan, 33 years old and father of five children, and Moshe Yedidya Raziel (Rosenberg), 31 years old and father of three.
Grew up together, studied together, lived together and fell together
Both of them grew up together in the settlement of Psagot in the Binyamin region, studied social work together at a college in Ashkelon, and arrived at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom as part of the religious core group that came to strengthen the kibbutz, which was on the verge of closure. They acquired homes in the kibbutz and became members of the community.
In addition to them, two other members of the the emergency squad were injured, as well as another resident whose home was entered by the terrorists. The bravery of the fighters who grew up together and fell together saved the kibbutz. In their actions, they managed to prevent the terrorists from entering the settlement's homes, and except for a single house, all of the kibbutz houses remained a refuge for families. The courage of the fallen fighters is a symbol of bravery and self-sacrifice.
May their memory be blessed.