A 24-year-old Israeli who recently relocated to Utah is among the more than 1,000 people killed in Israel by Hamas militants in a surprise attack on Saturday resulting in a declaration of war by Israeli leaders.
According to Rabbi Avremi Zippel of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, Lotan Abir had completed military service in Israel and moved to Utah six to eight months ago, where he was working as a locksmith. He was among a group of young Israelis in Utah who do handyman jobs, he said.
Abir was killed while attending a rave Friday night, Rabbi Zippel said.
“He was someone who did not have a malicious bone in his body. It’s remarkable to me that the photos that we have with him are from one of our larger parties this year and I posted on my social media. There’s about half a dozen of him, smiling with his friends, enjoying, celebrating his Judaism, which was at the core of his essence,” Rabbi Zippel said.
Abir loved music, Rabbi Zippel said in an interview on Tuesday.
“He went to a rave with a number of friends, and that’s where innocent blood was shed, at a rave, for God’s sake, and we’re busy having conversations about political conflict. You could think that Lotan was a member of the Israeli congress who had recently passed a harmful bill. We’re talking about a young person who was shot down at a rave, there’s value to people starting to wrap their minds around this. There’s value to people really starting to understand what we’re talking about right over there,” he said.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, tweeted: “May he, and all of the innocent men, women, and children killed in these horrific terrorist attacks, rest in peace.”
Rabbi Zippel urged Utahns to gather at the Utah Stands With Israel rally at 5 p.m. Wednesday outside the Utah State Capitol.
“Utah is overwhelmingly full of good people. It’s time to show up. Our community is reeling. Death toll in the thousands. Images that are simply inhumane. Does it bother you? Be at the Capitol tomorrow at 5 p.m., and show us it does,” he tweeted.
The event is not a political rally, he said.
“This is an event that is supporting the innocent, the innocent lives of hundreds now into the thousands of men, women and children,” said Rabbi Zippel.
Rabbi Zippel said some in his community have been told by their employers not to post about the terrorist attack and war on their social media platforms.
“Was there conflict on Sept. 12, (2001) when the global community stood with Americans who were being murdered en masse? Was there concern about the potential political conflict and blowback of putting an American flag on your porch? If someone could explain to me why this is different, I would be profoundly indebted to them,” Rabbi Zippel said.
U.S. has Israel’s back, Biden says
According to CNN, President Joe Biden confirmed on Tuesday that Americans are among the hostages being held by Hamas after its rampage over the weekend. The known number of Americans killed in the attacks stands at 14.
The president said more than 1,000 civilians had been killed by Hamas fighters, including women, children and seniors. The known number of Americans killed in the attacks stands at 14.
The president characterized the acts as “pure unadulterated evil,” in his remarks delivered Tuesday at the White House.
Americans are among the people Hamas militants have taken hostage and have threatened to kill if Israel strikes at civilians without warning.
“This is terrorism,” said Biden, vowing to stand with Israel.
“The United States has Israel’s back. We will make sure the Jewish and democratic State of Israel can defend itself today, tomorrow, as we always have. It’s as simple as that,” Biden said.
At least 765 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip by Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, CBS News reported. At least 140 children there have been killed and 4,000 others have been wounded, the health ministry said.
BYU Jerusalem Center safe
According to a BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies security update, “There have no reports of violence in Jerusalem. Most Jerusalemites are staying home; local schools will remain closed for the next two days.”
The Jerusalem Center’s 93 students have been asked to remain at the center. They are continuing with scheduled classes, according to the security update.