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SA grandmother killed en route to help grandchildren



Grandmother Marcelle Talia, 65, who was born and raised in the Free State, was mercilessly gunned down last Saturday by Hamas terrorists as she made her way to help look after her grandchildren. This a day after she had visited their day old sister and mother in hospital.

The tragic murder of Talia epitomises the barbarism and brutality experienced by innocent Israeli civilians last weekend during the deadliest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.

Talia was mercilessly gunned down in kibbutz Ein HaShlosha, which is a mere field or two away from the border with the Gaza Strip. She was there to help her son-in-law, Dor Ben Tsur, with the grandchildren while her daughter, Liora, was recovering in hospital after giving birth to the couple’s third child.

What should have been a magical Shabbat celebrating the birth of a baby girl, Asif, during the joyous festivals of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah turned into a gruesome nightmare that has shaken the family to its core.

“We are totally distraught, devastated,” said Talia’s close family relative, ex-South African Barbara Meltz-Kahn, from Jerusalem.

“Marcelle was a busy, happy, kind person. To be murdered for being Jewish in the Jewish homeland is impossible to comprehend,” she said.

No-one in the family knows what was going through Talia’s mind as she tried to get to her grandchildren on the kibbutz while all around her apocalyptic scenes of murder and mayhem ensued. Countless terrorists were running through the streets killing everyone in sight while sirens wailed, and a heavy barrage of rockets flew overhead.

Residents made frantic calls to police and the army to rescue them as they scrambled in the early hours to their safe houses.

Why did she risk leaving her guest room when there were incessant messages urging residents to stay put and take cover? Did she even get the WhatsApp messages, having switched off her phone before Shabbos and yomtov, like most observant Jews do?

All the family is certain of is that the grandmother of nine, originally from Wepener in the Free State, was savagely confronted and gunned down by Hamas terrorists on the path between her dwelling and the small home of her grandchildren sheltering nearby.

Her lifeless, bullet-riddled body was found many hours later by her sons, Betzalel and Dididia, who heroically travelled from far away in search of her after all efforts by family and friends to reach her had come to naught.

Their sister, Liora, called them from her maternity ward bed stricken with worry following radio reports and calls from the kibbutz alerting her of the violent siege. She tried for hours to get help.

Sadly, her brothers didn’t reach their mother in time. The distance from their family farm, Talia Farm, near Beit Yatir in the South Hebron Hills, proved too far to make it in time to save her. “In fact, they were some of the first responders on the scene, arriving before the army and police,” said Meltz-Kahn.

“They found her on the path leading to their sister’s home. She was still holding onto a box of Nature’s Valley Granola Bars,” Meltz-Kahn said.

She was no doubt going to give them to her grandchildren as a source of comfort, knowing for sure they would be scared, she told the SA Jewish Report.

She said it was “impossible to believe” that this carnage had taken place.

A photograph taken the day before on Friday, 6 October, shows Talia cradling her new baby granddaughter at her daughter’s bedside at the Samson Assuta Ashdod Hospital.

Talia and her late husband, Yaakov, originally from Randfontein, met in Israel after both had made aliya many years ago. Together, they turned a barren spot of land on a hilltop near Beit Yatir into their home, importing sheep from South Africa, and had four children.

Initially they lived in a mobile caravan, said Meltz-Kahn, slowly beautifying the area with paved roads, electricity, irrigation, and water. Three of their four children, all adults now, still live on the farm.

In a Facebook post, Liora recounted the horror of trying to call for help for the residents of the kibbutz. “I called everyone I could countless times. I asked for military forces, and they never showed up,” she wrote.

“Residents hid in the security room, terrorists broke into homes, robbed, murdered, and tried repeatedly to open locked security room doors,” she said.

She called her brothers. “Without hesitation, they got into the car, only the two of them. My heart asked G-d to leave me a family.

“They found my mom, lying on the ground, pierced by terrorists’ bullets while holding snacks for the kids in honour of the holidays.”

Liora said she sobbed when her husband told her the news.

“I cried a big cry about the woman sweeter than honey. All she wanted was to help us on the holiday, to help the family and play with the children. She came alone from South Africa, and chose to make a family here. I cried for my brothers who found her.”

In a poignant message at her mother’s funeral in Susia Cemetery she said, “There’s a time to be born and a time to die. We have enemies at the gate every day. Arise, continue to bring children to the nation of Israel after these hard days.”

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