Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Asher family
Efrat Katz and Gadi Mozes

On October 7, Dori Roberts of Austin, Texas, was in Dallas for a concert when his relative in Israel called to tell him that thousands of rockets were going off early that morning, and that his family in the south was missing. Roberts’s cousin, Doron Katz Asher, 34, was away visiting her aunt, Efrat Katz, 67, and her partner, Gadi Mozes, 79, at the Nir Oz Kibbutz near the Gaza border when Hamas terrorists stormed into their home. Doron’s two little girls, Aviv, 2, and Raz, 4, were with them. Roberts saw community WhatsApp chats that Doron and Efrat had participated in, where frightened people were texting as they hid in their safe rooms while terrorists ransacked their homes.

Doron’s texts showed that she reached out to her husband in Tel Aviv for help. There was no answer when he called the police or the army – the phone lines were jammed from too many people trying to get through. Doron told her family on WhatsApp that she could hear the terrorists trying to break into her safe room, and she was covering her young daughters who were cowering in the corner. Efrat’s partner, Gadi, stepped out of the safe room and informed the terrorists in Arabic that they were unarmed and didn’t want to hurt anyone. He suggested they take whatever they need and leave them in peace.



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Gadi never returned back to his family; the terrorists captured him. At approximately 10:30 AM, another group of terrorists broke into Efrat’s home and took the women and girls. All of their communications stopped. Doron’s husband tried to find the location of her phone, and the signal for it showed up in Khan Yunis, a city in the southern Gaza strip.

Later that Saturday, Hamas posted a video on TikTok of Doron and Efrat with Doron’s two young daughters riding in an open caravan with terrorists. One of the terrorists looked like he was trying to cover Doron’s head with blue and white material. Roberts said they were being taken to Gaza. He reported to The Jewish Press, “This is the last evidence of them alive.”

Two days later, on October 9, Roberts spotted a picture of Gadi in Gaza that was taken by a Palestinian journalist and published in The New York Times. Gadi looks terrified and bewildered while being manhandled by a terrorist standing behind him with a long gun.

Roberts found out that not everybody from the Nir Oz Kibbutz was kidnapped. “They all had to flee after almost eight hours of fighting,” he explained. “The IDF finally came through and pulled out all of the remaining people there. They put them in a dining hall…and spent the night there, while the army is watching them and protecting them, and then an armed convoy pulled them out to safety, and put them on buses and sent them down to Eilat.”

Ravid Katz

Roberts’s half cousin from his aunt’s previous marriage, Ravid Katz, 51, also lived on the Nir Oz Kibbutz. He was part of the kibbutz’s emergency response team, which was assembled to handle possible terror attacks. “We’re in touch with his sister, and his sister’s daughter…there are six family members who were a part of this ordeal. It’s been a never-ending nightmare.”

Roberts keeps in close contact with his family members in Israel as they navigate through a treacherous new altered reality, trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy as they frustratingly wait to hear updates about their loved ones.

A reporter for Jewish newspapers in Germany put Roberts in touch with Hostage Aid Worldwide (HAW), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. that is assisting him with finding his missing family members.

HAW was founded in September 2020 by over 30 former hostages from all over the world who understand what it’s like to be held captive, and what the unique needs are of these people and their families because they lived it. HAW’s mission is to save foreigners who have dual citizenship and are taken hostage in another country because it’s easier to advocate for hostages if they join forces with other countries, and it puts more pressure on the hostage takers. The Israeli hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza since October 7 are from Germany, France, Sweden, Canada, and the United States. HAW cannot disclose the number of hostages with dual citizenship that they are assisting at this time.

In 2015, HAW President and co-founder, Nizar Zakka, an American Lebanese information technology expert and internet freedom advocate, was kidnapped by the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps on his way to the airport after a speaking engagement in Iran, where he was unlawfully detained for four years. His testimonial on the HAW website describes how he spent 18 months blindfolded and had out of body experiences. He states, “As a former hostage who was kidnapped for almost 4 years in Iran, I have experienced firsthand the pain, suffering and betrayal that comes with it, but have also known the value of unwavering compassion and support, as well as the real meaning of hope, strength and freedom.”

Barry Rosen, also a founding member of HAW, is an American foreign diplomat and former U.S. Foreign Service Officer who was held hostage for 444 days during the Iran hostage crisis. On November 4, 1979, while he was working as the press attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, it was suddenly captured by radical Iranian students. From 1979-1981, he was held in captivity in the embassy, in prisons, and other places. He said the way he was treated was “inhumane. We were tied up, there were times when there were mock executions. It was a long and torturous period of my life. That is with always with me. That’s one of the reasons why I feel it’s important to assist (others).”

This is the first time HAW is working with hostage cases in Israel. Families and human rights lawyers have been contacting them about missing people in Israel, and they are in contact with the French and Swedish governments, as well as the FBI. HAW also has a partnership with the nonprofit organization EU Watch, which has connected them with families who have relatives who are missing in Israel.

Rosen described Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh as “secluded and protected and living the good life in Qatar.” He aims to get governments in the Middle East involved with the hostage rescue process. He stated, “We want these innocents to go free, and we want Qatar, which has lots of contacts, not only with Hamas, but obviously with Iran, and of course with Hezbollah…to use its influence in getting these innocent people free.”

HAW does not speak with hostage takers directly. Rosen believes that quiet negotiations are happening through back channels in the Middle East, primarily in Egypt and Qatar, in addition to communications with the U.S. and Israeli governments.

HAW is in touch with Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, the Ambassador of Qatar to the United States. Zakka explained, “What we’re trying to do currently is to talk to Qatar and ask them to start, at least as a good gesture, to influence them to release the elderly, and to release young children and women. We are going to push the catalyst to pressure Hamas, especially because Qataris have good relations with Hamas.” Zakka added that Al Thani “has been very helpful in the previous negotiation to get five Americans out of Iran last month.”

As of this writing, according to the IDF, there are currently 203 Israeli hostages being held in Gaza. Rosen said this hostage situation is unprecedented, and much more complex than any previous cases HAW has been involved with because of the number of hostages, coupled with how many different nationalities they have.

“Up until now, the largest number of hostages taken by one country, was Iran (with) 52 American hostages, and I was one of those, but this is the largest number taken by an entity, and not even a state. This is much, much more difficult, much harder. When you’re dealing with a state, there are things that you can do that you can hardly do with a terrorist organization. There are levers of power that you can touch, but here it’s much more nebulous.” He added, “I honestly believe, this is my own opinion, that these negotiations are not just with Hamas, but a wider array. Iran, obviously, will be important in any decision making, too.”

Zakka expressed his hope that, because so many countries are involved, “we can show how global cooperation can lead to the stopping of hostage taking. If all these countries will work together, and stand together to release the hostages, this can be something very good for the future.”


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