Warning: This story contains disturbing details.
In the first moments when Hamas militants stormed his communal farm on the outskirts of the Gaza Strip last weekend, Adi Vital-Kaploun, 33, a dual Israeli-Canadian citizen with close ties to Ottawa, She was taking refuge in her family’s home with her two children, one four years old and the other four and a half months old.
She told her father and husband to stay where they were and not to come to them.
It was an act that “certainly saved their lives,” his cousin-in-law, Aaron Smith, said in a Thursday morning interview with CBC Radio. Tomorrow in Ottawa.
“And yet she was able to convince the terrorists who murdered her to take her children to her neighbor; she also saved their lives. She is a hero.”
Smith said the details, contained in an article published Wednesday in the Globe and MailThey are graphics.
Family friends Moshiko Bengiat and Dina Zaslacksi told the Globe that Vital-Kaploun was shot in front of her children and that the four-year-old girl remembers everything. Later, when Hamas militants entered her neighbor’s house, she dragged her into her living room and threw Vital-Kaploun’s children at her, asking her if she knew them.
Smith told CBC that the neighbor and the children were used as human shields “to convince other friends and family on the kibbutz to come out” of their hiding place.
Chosen as a propaganda tool.
The neighbor and the children were taken across the Negev Desert to the Gaza Strip and released. Smith said they were “chosen as a propaganda tool” to show Hamas’ goodwill.
Grainy Hamas video footage shows Vital-Kaploun’s neighbor and two children near a fence near Gaza, and Hamas fighters walking away from them. Contradictory information from some media. He described them as a mother and her two children released by Hamas, or a woman and her two children released.
Vital-Kaploun’s family is outraged.
“These murderous terrorists have no good will. That’s propaganda,” Smith said. “Adi is the mother of those children. Adi is dead.
“The children went through unimaginable suffering, but miraculously they are with us and they are safe with their father… One of the children was shot, had shrapnel in the leg and a gunshot in the foot. That doesn’t seem like people that they are trying to save women and children,” he said.
LISTEN | Aaron Smith’s full interview with Tomorrow in Ottawa:
Tomorrow in Ottawa11:28Ottawa family of woman killed in Hamas-Israel conflict speaks out about their loss
The burial will take place in Israel
Smith said Vital-Kaploun’s family in Ottawa and Israel are in constant contact and are “as close as a family can be.”
She spent summers in Ottawa with her cousins and family, attending summer camps and traveling the country — “a normal Canadian life for a lovely Israeli girl,” Smith said.
“There are no words to describe how our family is doing. It’s just difficult. The pain and suffering that we are going through and that all of our people are going through is unimaginable.”
Vital-Kaploun will be buried in Israel, but with the Canadian government trying to airlift its citizens out, her family in Ottawa doesn’t know how to attend.
“We all want to be there,” Smith told CBC. “We all want to be there always, to be with our family, to be in our own land, to celebrate our Judaism. Some of us contemplate [going], but it’s hard to know if you go there how you get back. It’s hard to know how one voluntarily flies into a war zone. But we are all there with her in spirit and in our minds.”
Andrea Freedman, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, said Tomorrow in Ottawa Thursday that what the family is enduring is “absolutely heartbreaking” and that they are one family among 1,300 facing the same pain.
The mayor spoke with the family.
Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said Wednesday that he had been in contact with a family in the city who had lost a loved one in the Israel conflict.
“It breaks my heart to see what’s going on there,” Sutcliffe told reporters during a fight at City Hall. “My thoughts are with all the victims and all the Ottawa families who have been affected by what is happening.”
Sutcliffe later posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Vital-Kaploun was the granddaughter of former ByWard Market store owner Irving Rivers.
The Irving Rivers store, located at the intersection of York Street and ByWard Market Square, has been in business for more than 70 years.
I was devastated to learn of the murder of Adi Vital-Kaploun, granddaughter of former ByWard Market store owner Irving Rivers, during the terrorist attacks in Israel. I spoke with Adi’s mother and family today to offer my support and deepest condolences on behalf…
Two Canadians have been confirmed dead and a third is presumed dead as a result of the conflict, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly.
Global Affairs Canada has not confirmed Vital-Kaploun’s identity.
Currently, 4,227 Canadians are registered in Israel on the federal government’s registry of Canadians abroad, and another 475 are registered in the Palestinian territories, according to Global Affairs Canada.
Joly’s comments came after the Palestinian militant group Hamas carried out an attack on Israel last weekend, firing rockets, killing civilians and taking hostages.
The attack prompted Israel to declare war on Hamas with its own attacks. Israel has also ordered what it has described as a complete siege of Gaza, blocking the entry of everything from electricity and fuel to food and water.