In a tragic twist of fate, a Minnesota woman and her husband who had vocally advocated for Palestinian rights and protested against Israeli military actions were killed in a Hamas attack.
Cindy Flash, a 67-year-old originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, had emigrated to Israel decades ago. She married Igal Flash, a 66-year-old Israeli and the son of Holocaust survivors, and they settled in Kfar Aza, a community located just a few miles from the Gaza border.
The couple’s home in Kfar Aza sat right next to the security fence that Hamas militants broke through as they attacked Israel by land, sea, and air.
What makes Cindy’s story particularly poignant is the irony that she, an advocate for Palestinian rights, became a victim of the very group she sought to help.
Cindy was known for her advocacy for Palestinian rights. She would often protest against Israeli military operations in Gaza, standing up for the dignity and humanity of Palestinians, according to CNN.
“Whenever there was a military operation, (she) would always protest,” according to their daughter Keren Flash, 34.
“She was there protesting all the time so they won’t destroy it – so that people will see what’s happening because you don’t treat human beings like that no matter what their religious belief is and what their ethnicity is.”
“They were some of the best people that I have ever known,” she added of her parents. “They were good people. They cared about other people. They fought for other people’s rights and other people’s voices.”
However, on a fateful Saturday, the couple was killed inside a safe room at their home during a large-scale attack by Hamas. Keren Flash received a text message from her mother that read, “they managed to break into the safe room.” That was the last time she heard from them.
After days of agonizing silence and uncertainty about their fate, Keren Flash told CNN that the only sliver of solace she could grasp from the devastating news was that they “died instantly so at least it was quick and relatively painless.”
USA Today reported:
In fact, the extended Flash family had expected a very different Saturday from the one they got.
They had planned a family picnic. And later that afternoon they were going to make and fly kites in the local soccer field as part of an annual community event. Maybe, they thought, they’d have a little ice cream and relax after a hectic week of family life and work. A DJ was going to play.
Instead, Keren, a Pilates instructor, and her husband, Avidor Schwartzman, 37, a media consultant, woke abruptly around 6:30 a.m. to a blaring alarm system and heard what appeared to be the sound of bombs going off. They leaped out of bed and dashed down the hall to grab their 1-year-old baby, Saar, and her bottle, diapers, water and a little food. Then they locked themselves in a room of concrete and reinforced steel.
Around the same time, Cindy and Igal, 66, locked themselves in their own safe room. The sounds of bombs gradually turned into the sounds of automatic gunfire as Hamas militants encircled Kfar Aza and began going house to house to hunt people down.
“We started losing contact with so many people on various WhatsApp groups,” said Keren, who along with Avidor and Saar was eventually rescued by Israeli security services. ”We would hear that they were wounded, and then they would just drop off completely.”