Photo by Noam Moskowitz/Knesset Spokesperson on 31 October, 2023

116 Israeli Children Orphaned by Hamas’s Terror Attack, Lawmakers Told

Public By Pesach Benson • 1 November, 2023

Jerusalem, 1 November, 2023 (TPS) -- The Hamas terror attack of Oct. 7 has left 116 children from 59 families orphaned, according to data presented to the Knesset’s Labor and Welfare Committee on Tuesday.

“The State of Israel has not faced such a situation since its establishment, neither in numbers nor in substance. There is no need to explain the importance of sensitivity when it comes to the treatment of those children. As a committee, we intend to accompany the responsible parties, to assist and be at their disposal for any need that comes their way,” said committee chair MK Israel Eichler.

At least 1,400 people were killed by Hamas’s surprise attack on southern Israeli communities. More than 800 of the bodies have been identified. The number of confirmed hostages held captive into Gaza stands at 240. Other individuals still remain unaccounted for.

Rakefet Atzmon, who is in charge of the issue of orphans at the Ministry of Welfare, told the committee that according to the ministry’s data, 20 children under the age of 18 from 12 different families had both of their parents killed, taken or hostage, or are missing.

Atzmon added that 96 children under the age of 18 from 47 families had one parent killed, taken hostage, or are missing.

She described the data as “dynamic” and constantly being updated with information from the Home Front Command, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and National Insurance “to get a complete picture.”

Asked how the orphans who lost both parents are being treated, Atzmon said that “the perception and preference is that those who will take care of children who have lost both of their parents are first of all family members and this is the situation at the moment. Of these 12 families, the majority have already reached a legal agreement on who will take care of the children.”

She said for the remaining children, welfare services are still trying to reach an agreements for the children to be raised by relatives.

“If they fail, we will have to decide within our authority in the law,” she said.

Yonatan Bogut, CEO of the Summit Institute urged lawmakers to quickly recognize all the orphans as foster children so they can begin receiving care. The Jerusalem-based non-profit provides foster care services in Jerusalem and southern Israel.

“We need the children to be officially recognized as foster children as soon as possible so that we can give them the treatment they need,” Bogut said. “The time factor is critical for children who are going through trauma again, especially those of them who are still moving between houses and are in dire need of stability.”