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'Team Elchanan’ from Otniel




Menachem and Elchanan Kalmanson chat all the way down to the settlements near the Gaza Strip. They are close brothers, living in the settlement of Otniel, and each of them is a father to five children. Menachem, a little afraid of what would happen down south, was reassured by Elchanan. Perhaps reassuring is not the correct choice of word, Elchanan was very focused.

It all began on that very morning, October 7th. Menachem called up his brother: “Elchanan, do you know what is going on down south?” Elchanan answered briefly and sharply: “I am packing my things and going down there. I want to find a way to be useful."

They are not soldiers and nor were they called up for reserve duty. They were just ordinary people who understood that help was needed – and they came to assist. In a few minutes both were already in the car, they did not know exactly where to go but the goal was very clear to them. On the way, as they were nearing Kibbutz Be’eri they heard a call: “There is a girl in a ‘safe room’ who needs to be rescued, her house is on fire!” They did not hesitate and came to her assistance, but along the way they understood that there were many more people who had been waiting a long time to be rescued.

‘Team Elchanan’ did not delay. They went from house to house, searching for people. “Is there anyone here,” they asked, and an elderly lady answered, “Who are you?”

“Elchanan and Menachem from Otniel. We have come to rescue you!” They helped her to leave the house, but not before they assisted her in taking everything she needed: glasses, shoes, a phone. They really took care of her.

This rescue mission of elderly and young went on for many hours. During the night their nephew Itiel, their sister’s son, joined them. People were standing at the kibbutz gate and begging: “My daughter is still inside, can you rescue her?”; “My son is with his wife in their ‘safe room’,”; “My grandmother is still there.” They understood the task at hand; it was a race against time. This powerhouse of a team entered the kibbutz over and over again to rescue more people. They saved 100 people – 100 worlds. They managed to conquer time and evil.

“This is what we were taught at home. If someone is in need, there is no choice but to help them,” says Menachem.

In the last house they encountered a terrorist. Itiel came out unscathed, Menachem was injured and Elchanan, their brother, could not continue, he was fatally wounded. Now he is in our hearts, as a reminder of tremendous heroism.




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