OTTAWA — Friends and family have confirmed that at least three Canadians were killed last weekend when Hamas militants conducted a series of brutal attacks in Israel.
Two Canadian men were killed by Hamas gunmen who ambushed a music festival in southern Israel, according to their loved ones in Canada. And an Israeli Canadian mother of two was killed in her kibbutz, a communal farming settlement, an Ottawa Jewish group said.
At least 2,800 people have been killed so far in the conflict sparked by the Hamas attacks, which has escalated throughout the week as Israel conducts retaliatory strikes on the Gaza Strip.
Canada considers Hamas a terrorist group, and Canadian leaders have decried the violence it waged on the weekend. The federal government is organizing flights for Canadian citizens and permanent residents out of Tel Aviv, but it can do little to help some 100 Canadians trapped in Gaza amid Israel’s siege on the territory.
Here’s what we know about the three people that friends and family in Canada are mourning.
Adi Vital-Kaploun, 33, was killed by Hamas militants in her kibbutz near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, according to the Jewish Federation of Ottawa.
The group’s CEO made a statement on behalf of Vital-Kaploun’s family on Wednesday, 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 Friday.
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.”
Canadian Ben Mizrachi was one of at least 260 people gunned down by Hamas militants at a 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 for 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, who recently celebrated his 33rd birthday, was also 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 on Monday.
“Like a true warrior he left as a hero wanting to protect the people he was with,” Alain Haim Look wrote on Facebook.
Look’s friend, Lior Horovitz, described him as a “once-in-a-lifetime person” who became more 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.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2023.
Liam Fox, The Canadian Press