Son distraught after Hamas kidnapped his mother: Dr. Shoshan Haran helped thousands of African farmers through her NGO Fair Planet

In a whisper, she confirmed the news of the bombardment and spoke words that still haunt me today. She could hear terrorists screaming and firing shots outside. Then, the line went dead.

  • 5 months ago
  • December 9, 2023
6 min read
Ten family members kidnapped by Hamas included Dr. Shoshan Haran, founder of the NGO Fair Planet. | Photo courtesy of Shira Havron Ten family members kidnapped by Hamas included Dr. Shoshan Haran, founder of the NGO Fair Planet. | Photo courtesy of Shira Havron
Yuval Haran
journalist’s notes
interview subject
Yuval Haran, resident of Be’eri kibbutz in southern Israel, discovered shortly after October 7, 2023 that 10 members of his family were taken hostage by Hamas including his mother Dr. Shoshan Haran, his father Avshalom Haran, his sister Adi Shoshan, her husband Tal and their two children Yahel and Naveh, his father’s sister Sharon Avigdori and her 12-year-old daughter, his uncle Noam and Noam’s caregiver.

Yuval and his wife were at a music event when he heard the news. Yuval is a social activist and son of world-famous agronomist Shoshan Haran who founded the NGO Fair Planet. The remains of Yuval’s father and uncle were discovered in the forest. Many families have citizenship or ties to Germany, Italy, and Austria. They have reached out to those countries for help.
background information
The recent war between Israel and Hamas, the deadliest since 2007, escalated with Hamas’s surprise attack on Southern Israel on October 7, 2023. Israel reported about 1,200 people were killed and roughly 240 were taken hostage by the terrorists. In response, Israel began bombing Gaza and launched a ground campaign. As of the publishing of this story, the Ministry of Health in Gaza has reported that over 15,000 people have been killed there. Some hostages have been returned after a temporary cease fire but many remain.

BE’ERI, Israel — On a special religious day known as Shabat, Hamas terrorists attacked southern Israel and massacred civilians and soldiers. They kidnapped hundreds of people, including members of my family from the Be’eri kibbutz where my parents lived.   

My mother dreamed of a fair world, free of hunger and starvation. She quit her job as a seed producer to follow her passion and help the vulnerable. In 2011, my mom created Fair Planet, an NGO that has helped thousands of farmers out of poverty and increased their seed values by millions of dollars in places like Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Germany. Her greatest cheerleader, my father, enthusiastically supported her dreams.  However, in October 2023, our story took a terrifying turn.

Read more stories on the Israel-Palestine war at Orato World Media 

From her home in the kibbutz, my mother whispered as terrorists shouted outside

On that fateful day on October 7, 2023, Hamas fighters took 10 members of my family hostage after the massacre in the kibbutz. They blew up the home where I lived for decades and burned the house we had for generations to the ground.

My wife and I lived in the same kibbutz but attended a music event that day. When we heard news of a rocket attack from Gaza, I immediately picked up the phone and called my parents. My mother answered, speaking unusually quiet. I could barely hear her.

In a whisper, she confirmed the news of the bombardment and spoke words that still haunt me today. She could hear terrorists screaming and firing shots outside. Then, the line went dead. I redialed the number over and over, but no one answered. A few moments later my mother sent a message saying they were in big trouble; they did know if they would survive.

During this time, my cousin in London received several calls and messages from her mother but when she called back, the phone simply rang. My father’s friend frantically tried reaching him, but again, no one answered. Then, at one point, his call went through. The voice on the other side spoke in Hebrew with an Arabic accent. He said one word: “kidnapped.” By 10:30 that morning, we lost all contact.

The days that followed felt like a nightmare as we faced the decimation of our entire family. No news arrived to confirm whether they were dead or alive. After about 10 days, we tracked the phones of some family members to Gaza. Another two days passed, and Israeli security forces finally told us our family members were taken hostage. We had no details about their physical health.

Authorities find bodies in the forest, others remain missing

When the news arrived, that authorities found the body of my uncle’s caretaker in the forest near the kibbutz, I felt myself lose all hope of ever seeing my family again. I felt certain they would find the remains of my family members next. Ten long days and sleepless nights dragged on before tragedy struck again. They discovered the massacred remains of my father and my cousin’s husband – dead and cold. The rest remained unaccounted for.

Before the October 7 attack by Hamas in Israel, we lived a beautiful, communal life. Now, I have no one to go back to. My wife and I moved into a temporary home alongside other citizens affected by this nightmare. Every day, I wake up hoping to hear from my mother. I have marched the streets of Israel in protest, but it feels like all we hear are empty promises by the government. We feel alone in this.

My cousins work around the clock to get any information they can to ensure the return of our family members. I lost my dad already; I cannot afford to lose my mother too. People knew her as Dr. Shoshan Haran – an incredibly special woman who gave her life to spreading peace and love. My mother not only works through her NGO Fair Planet to help farmers through better seeds and technology, but to protect plants for current and future generations.

Ten members of Yuval Haran’s family were taken hostage by Hamas on October 7, 2023 and two were found dead. | Photo courtesy of Shira Havron

She wasn’t the only hero taken. My cousin, now hostage, served as a psychologist helping children who experienced trauma and working in the global women’s anti-war movement. My aunt and her husband loved peace; they had friends across borders including Palestinian and Bedouin people. We come from a family of social workers. How did we deserve this terrifying experience?    

They took my three-year-old niece Yula hostage in Gaza

Perhaps worst of all, I think of my three-year-old niece Yula – the youngest in our family. Every minute of every day, I think about my sister and her two young daughters. I scream out their names, but it echoes in silence. The memories haunt me. Back in September, Yula started her preschool adjustment period. I remember she made imaginary food for everyone, and we sat around, relishing the happiness of that moment with her.

Now, the questions torture me: “How are they being fed in captivity? Is she with her mother? Does she sleep by her mother’s side?” Yula is too young to have been dragged into darkness, terror and fear like this.


Three-year-old Yula is the youngest family member kidnapped and held hostage by Hamas. | Photo courtesy of Shira Havron

On October 7, 2023, many children in Be’eri became orphans and many parents lost their children. We recently organized a funeral for my beloved father. It felt notable that my mother – his cherished wife – remained absent. She could not be by his side when we laid him to rest. Far too many of our family missed the opportunity to bid him farewell.

Now the days stretch on as I wait for my mother, sister, niece, and my other relatives to return home. This waiting – it is heart wrenching. Yet, I must wait; I must pray. I know that even if they do make it back, we face a very long road to healing and recovery.

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