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Minutes Before She Was Kidnapped, Maya Regev Called Her Father: “Dad, He Is Killing us … I Love You”

Regev vividly remembers every minute of that fateful day, reliving it daily.
[additional-authors]
November 30, 2023

On Saturday morning, October 7, Ilan Regev received a phone call from his daughter Maya, 21, informing him of missiles targeting the music festival near the Gaza border in Nova. It was 7 am. Initially Maya reassured her father and said that she and her brother Itay, 18, were going to wait until things calm down and then start heading back home. She hung up the phone and promised to call back. Meanwhile, Regev turned on the TV and realized this was no ordinary missile attack. “I saw that Hamas got to Sderot and knew the situation is bad.” An hour and a half passed and still no word from his children. Regev tried calling them frantically but there was no reply. Then at 8:42 a.m., Maya called.

“Dad, they shot at me. Dad!” Amid chaotic screams, Maya pleaded for help, “Dad, he is killing us, he is killing us!” In a recording that was released, Regev sounds worried but composed as he asked for her location. Maya swiftly replied, “Dad, I love you, we are in the car. It’s impossible to get out.”

Then the line went dead and Regev’s heart dropped. 

A few hours earlier Regev had picked up Maya, Itay and his ex-wife Mirit from Ben Gurion airport after a three-week vacation in Mexico. They missed their flight which left earlier than scheduled and Mirit did everything she could to book them on another flight so they could make it to the music festival in Nova, something they were looking forward to. 

“I picked them up at 11:30 p.m. They went home to change and immediately they left for the party.” Regev told the Journal over the phone from his home in Herzliya. “After that phone call, I immediately got in my car and started driving south. On the way I tried calling the police, the army, anyone I could but nobody answered. The first thing that I thought was; “I’m going to bury two children.”.

Regev vividly remembers every minute of that fateful day, reliving it daily. He crossed one checkpoint on the way; at a second checkpoint, he saw other desperate parents. Unable to keep on driving, he drove to Soroka hospital in Beer Sheva, but his children weren’t there. “Some people who arrived there from the party said that some party goers went to Kibbutz Patish. I drove there but again I was not allowed to continue driving past the IDF checkpoints.”

“It was a nightmare. This entire Saturday and ever since then had been a nightmare which I don’t wish on my worst enemies.”

Mirit, meanwhile, stayed at home waiting for any piece of information about her children. It finally came late at night.

“At 11:30pm. Mirit sent me a video clip where I saw my son and his friend Omer, their hands bound and they are on a pickup truck in Gaza. It might sound absurd that I’m saying this, but I smiled, I was happy my son is alive.”

The parents were still uncertain about what happened to Maya, but knowing she was with her brother and their friend Omer made them believe she was kidnapped as well. On Monday they received a confirmation from the IDF. “They said they are coming over and it was really scary hearing these words, but when they told me both of my kids were kidnapped by Hamas, I felt relieved that they are both alive. However, I feel that Maya got injured in her leg because they found one of her Dr. Martin Shoes outside the car.”

Ilan and Mirit Regev

When asked for his thoughts about the deal negotiations between Israel and Hamas to release 50 of the 240 hostages (children and elderly), he said he doesn’t believe Israel would agree to a partial release of the hostages. “Our position is to release all of the hostages. I don’t think it will happen because Hamas is playing games and does whatever they want and keep demanding things.”

The day before our interview, he returned from Geneva where he met with the Red Cross Chair Woman. “I played her my last conversation with my daughter and I could tell she was shocked. I told members of the Red Cross, ‘Your job is to get in there and see that all the kidnapped are fine and you don’t do anything.‘”

Ever since that “Black Saturday” he has stopped working, he hardly sleeps or eats. His days revolves around doing everything he can to raise awareness and telling the world what has happened in Israel. The day before our interview, he returned from Geneva where he met with the Red Cross Chairwoman. “I played her my last conversation with my daughter and I could tell she was shocked. I told members of the Red Cross, ‘Your job is to get in there and see that all the kidnapped are fine and you don’t do anything.’”

“It’s really sad that an organization that is supposed to help all countries in the world, doesn’t do it when Israel is involved,” he said. 

Regev finds comfort in his 14-year-old son and the support he receives from friends, family and complete strangers. “The warmth and love I’m getting from our people is incredible. It doesn’t matter where I’m going to, people approach me, hug me, say they are praying for my children’s safe return, and they don’t even know me. This is something that you see only with this nation and not anywhere else in the world and it gives me a lot of strength.”

Regev believes his children will return back home; he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who promised him everything will be done to return the hostages back home. 

“I miss my children so much. Itay was about to enlist in the IDF. He loved surfing and we used to do it together. This is a kid who loves life, loves to dance and party. Maya was planning her trip to South America in December. She said ‘I’ll first travel and then enroll in the university’. They are both very good friends. I can’t wait for them to get back to me. I miss them so much.”

Update: Maya Regev, 21, was among the 13 hostages released on Nov. 25th, the first hostage from the Nova music festival to be freed. Upon her return to Israel, she was promptly transported to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva to address her foot injury. Unfortunately, her brother Itay, who was also taken captive, remains in captivity in Gaza. Despite the relief of Maya’s safe return, her mother Mirit expressed ongoing concern for her son, emphasizing, “I’m going to hug Maya tightly; we won’t cease our efforts until Itay and all the other hostages are safely back home.”

Update 11/30/23: Itay Regev was released on November 29 and reunited with his sister Maya at the hospital.

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