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After October 7 attack on Israel, Hamas tries to sell soldier’s severed head for $10,000

Strange feelings came over me the day I prepared to lower my son’s coffin into the ground. Feeling uneasy, I decided to open his coffin for a moment… the shocking image I encountered would become a permanent memory etched in my mind.

  • 5 months ago
  • March 3, 2024
7 min read
Adir Tahar, an IDF soldier, was killed on October 7, 2023, when Hamas invaded Israel. He was later beheaded in Gaza. | Photo courtesy David Tahar Adir Tahar, an IDF soldier, was killed on October 7, 2023, when Hamas invaded Israel. He was later beheaded in Gaza. | Photo courtesy David Tahar
David Tahar
JOURNALIST’S NOTES
INTERVIEW SUBJECT
David Tahar, 57, is the father of Adir, an IDF soldier killed on October 7, 2023, when Hamas attacked the southern part of Israel. Adir, an IDF soldier stationed at the Gaza border in the Golani Brigade, was killed by Hamas along other members of the brigade. Hearing nothing, David searched for his son’s body and it was eventually returned to him, but Adir had been beheaded by Hamas. It took him two months of working alongside IDF before they recovered Adir’s head from a freezer in Gaza where Hamas stored it. During the interrogation, the IDF learned that Hamas tried to sell Adir’s head for $10,000.
BACKGROUND INFOMATION
On October 7, 2023, Hamas fighters attacked the southern part of Israel, invading nearby kibbutz using more than 5,000 air rockets. More than 700 of them entered the kibbutz around the Gaza border armed with heavy weaponry. They killed about 1,200 people and abducted about 253 people from seven different kibbutz as well as from the Nova music festival. Adir, an IDF soldier and the son of David Tahar, was killed by a hand grenade and later butchered.

Trigger warning: this story contains graphic details about the Hamas invasion of Israel and subsequent beheading of 19-year-old soldier Adir. This story may not be suitable for some readers.

NAHAL OZ, Israel ꟷ On October 7, 2023, when 3,000 Hamas terrorists burst into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, my brave son and 18 other soldiers faced them. Thinking it might be 100 Hamas men, the soldiers soon realized they were gravely outnumbered. The army commander asked for volunteers to join him at his position and Adir volunteered first. The commander took four soldiers – two of whom died quickly. He posted Adir at the corner and he killed many terrorists. Then, Hamas hit him with one rocket-propelled and three hand-thrown grenades.

I later learned Hamas took him into Gaza and severed his head. When the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) recovered Adir’s body, they identified it from his dog tags, DNA testing, and personal items in his pockets, yet, his head remained missing. I spent two torturous months searching for my son’s missing head, doing everything I could to find it. The treacherous journey drained me mentally and emotionally.

I watched dozens of videos of Hamas massacres posted on social media. Eventually, I found a video revealing the horrendous sight of my son’s body without his head. By the time I found the video, I had no tears left to cry and no pain in my heart. Dead for months, finding Adir’s head became my only mission in life. I wanted to bury him with dignity after dying in such an undignified way. My tears and mourning would have to wait. All I could think of was the head that I cradled as an infant and the face I kissed for 19 years.

Read more stories on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at Orato World Media.

Adir joined the IDF two months before he turned 19: father desperately tries to reach him when Hamas invaded Israel

October 7, 2023, started like any other day. At my home in Gilo, a neighborhood in Jerusalem, I heard sirens. As usual, we hid in our shelter, but on this Shabbat, things changed quickly. News began to emerge about the security situation in Israel and then we heard an announcement by the Prime Minister. “We are war,” he declared.

On WhatsApp, a flood of information came in. I read about terrible attacks by Hamas after breaking through perimeters in the South and along the Gaza border. They attacked communities and a music festival. Instantly, I picked up my phone and called my son Adir. Adir joined the Israeli Army two months before turning 19 years old. He worked as a sniper while training for eight months for his permanent commission.

Now he was posted with the Golani Brigade at the Gaza Border. For the next 30 hours, I called and called, but Adir never responded. “He must be in the middle of battling terrorists and can’t take my calls,” I thought. It comforted me to imagine him alive and fighting. In a WhatsApp group for the families of army officers, people began asking questions about their 18- and 19-year-olds. No one had any news.

I tried calling the commander, but he also did not respond. “Does my son still have breath in his lungs,” I wondered. “Has he been kidnapped?” I had no idea, and the questions haunted me. Finally, on a Saturday, I visited a hospital near the Gaza border and encountered a soldier from my son’s unit. When I asked about Adir, I could tell he knew something, but revealed little. He said the last time he saw Adir “he had an injury.” In that moment, I knew intuitively that I lost my son forever.

Father opens coffin to find his son missing his head

The IDF officers cut my conversation short with the soldier, but I did hear that my son would likely be in the trauma area. I waited four hours before an army commander called me into a room. “Adir is dead,” he told me. Shock set in. I asked for Adir’s body, and the commander told me they sent it in forensic testing. After a few days, it would be returned.

The long wait for Adir’s body to arrive the following Tuesday afternoon traumatized me. When it came, I took my 19-year-old son home in a coffin. No father wants to see the day he buries a young son. Still, I know Adir died a hero. I’m certain my smart and talented son took out many Hamas terrorists before he himself was killed.

Adir joined the Israeli Defense Force two months after his 19th birthday. | Photo courtesy David Tahar.

Strange feelings came over me the day I prepared to lower my son’s coffin into the ground. Feeling uneasy, I decided to open his coffin for a moment. The IDF warned me about seeing his body and asked me to not to look at him. They said seeing his butchered body would be too difficult, but I could not stop myself.

I accompanied my son from his first breath, and I needed to know about his last. When I opened the coffin, the shocking image I encountered would become a permanent memory etched in my mind. Laying inside, the body of my precious son was missing something. I later learned Hamas took Adir into Gaza and cut off his head.

Hamas tried selling soldier’s head for $10,000, father finally finds some peace

After my long journey searching for Adir’s head, a miracle happened the first week of December. IDF soldiers captured two terrorists from Gaza and the Shin Bet security service interrogated them. They revealed how they attempted to sell an IDF soldier’s head for $10,000 and gave details about where it could be found.

Barbarism feels too small a word for what Hamas did to Israelis and to my son. I cannot fathom how someone can take the bloody head of another human being, put it in a bag, transport it into their country, and try to sell it. My hard work eventually paid off when the IDF command gave orders to an elite unit to enter Gaza and find the location.

David Tahar (left), father of Adir Tahar (right), an IDF soldier who was among the earliest 18 soldiers who fought the Hamas invasion on October 7, 2023. | Photo courtesy David Tahar.

Backed by tanks, they recovered my son’s head from a bag stored inside a freezer in an ice cream store. Using shrapnel and knives, Hamas had further abused Adir’s severed head. Along with the head, they found many bones as well as my son’s eyes. They completely butchered him. 

The IDF brought my son’s head home and sent it to the forensic lab. DNA and dental records confirmed his identity. Despite the terrible circumstances and the amount of emotional and physical pain I went through, finding that part of his body gave me some peace. 

After I received Adir’s head, we laid it in the coffin and finally laid my boy to rest. I did everything I could to give my son a befitting burial after he suffered and died at the hands of terrorists. In honor of Adir, my family and I are now working to establish a neighborhood support center for vulnerable youth. We also commissioned a Torah Scroll to be written in his memory.

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