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    Sunday, March 03, 2024

    Man with ties to Waterford confirmed to have been killed in Hamas attack

    Liat Beinin (left) and Aviv Atzili in an undated photo in New York City. Beinin was freed from captivity this week. Atzili was confirmed killed. (Photo contributed by family)

    An Israeli father of three with family ties to Waterford was confirmed dead at the hands of Hamas militants on Thursday, news that was delivered to his wife shortly after her release from captivity in Gaza.

    Aviv Atzili, the 49-year-old husband of Liat Beinin was killed in the Oct. 7 attack at Kibbutz Nir Oz, the Times of Israel reported. Until this week, Atzili had been presumed to be a hostage like his wife who was taken from her southern Israel home during the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas militants that left about 1,200 Israelis dead.

    Liat Beinin, who has dual American and Israeli citizenship, is the cousin of Jerry Fischer of Waterford, the former president of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut. The couple had visited Waterford with other family members over the summer.

    Fischer said both were presumed to be held captive in Gaza with the 240 others kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7. Beinin was freed from captivity on Wednesday as part of an ongoing exchange of Hamas hostages in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners.

    “The next day the Israeli Army came to tell her that her husband had been murdered,” Fischer said.

    The circumstances of Atzili’s death are unclear but Fischer said he was defending the kibbutz, a normally peaceful community where about a quarter of the 427 residents were either killed or taken hostage during the October attack. Beinin was taken from her home.

    Her three children, one of whom was not at the kibbutz at the time, are all safe. The couple’s 22-year-old son, Ofri, was in a safe room in his apartment at the kibbutz holding the door closed as terrorists tried to enter.

    Fischer said Yehuda Beinin, Liat Beinin’s father and also an American citizen, is thrilled his daughter is alive but is now mourning the loss of Atzili.

    “Aviv was one of the kindest, gentle and creative people you can imagine, just a great father and artist and amazing with his hands,” Fischer said.

    Atzili took care of all of the farm equipment on the kibbutz and was “a pillar within the community,” Fischer said.

    U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, who had pledged to work with the State Department to secure the couple’s release, issued a statement on Thursday.

    “Today’s news that Liat Beinin’s husband, Aviv Atzili, was killed by Hamas attackers at the Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7 is heartbreaking and infuriating,” Courtney said in the statement.

    “The willful inability of Hamas to account for its despicable assault left Aviv’s family totally in the dark about his whereabouts over the last seven weeks. The relief Liat and her family in Israel and Connecticut experienced upon her release is now buried in grief. As Liat’s father powerfully stated, ‘Revenge, anger – certainly not religious fanaticism—are not parts of a viable agenda to end this nonsense in the Middle East. This can’t go on like this.”

    g.smith@theday.com

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