Ofir Tzarfati, a 27-year-old electrical engineering student who was abducted to the Gaza Strip, is no longer alive, the municipality of his hometown Kiryat Ata, announced Thursday morning.
For over three weeks after at he music festival near Kibbutz Re’im, Tzarfati's family was unsure whether he was killed or taken hostage by Hamas. Then, IDF representatives informed the family that he had been abducted to the Gaza Strip on October 7. No details have been made public about how his death was confirmed.
Ofir arrived at the music festival with his girlfriend, Shoval Gal, and several of his friends to celebrate his 27th birthday. Minutes before the attack began, he was photographed blowing out candles on a cake brought to commemorate the event.
“After 54 days, the sad news arrived, and our hearts are heavy with grief. Kiryat Ata mourns the murder of Ofir Tzarfati, who was abducted to Gaza from the music festival near Re’im," the Kiryat Ata municipality said in a statement. "We send our condolences to the grieving family. May his memory be a blessing."
Shoval, Ofir's girlfriend, told Ynet in an interview in October that when the attack took place they were standing next to the car they arrived in. "We were standing by the car, wanting to change our shoes when we started seeing the rocket interceptions. We called other friends who were at the party and told them to head to the car," she said.
Shoval, Ofir, and several of their friends initially ran to a nearby field, but Ofir decided to climb into the car and try to escape. As they left the party, they encountered heavy traffic and heard gunfire.
"We got out of the car while crouching and ran to a nearby field. Some of the group headed toward a nearby settlement, and Ofir, another friend, and I continued to hide and move away from the area where gunfire was constantly heard," she added.
Ofir led the group. After several hours, a car arrived and rescued them. Eight people got in the car, and Ofir intended to lie in the trunk, but then another car appeared, and Ofir got in it instead.
The two communicated via their cellphones and arranged to meet outside in a safe place. "When I arrived in Kfar Maimon, I tried to call him, but he didn't answer. I thought his phone ran out of battery or that he arrived somewhere safe and let others charge their phones before him."
For several days, Tzarfati's family feared that Ofir was killed, with the location of his body unknown. Two weeks after the attack, the mother of another Israeli hostage contacted the family and told them that when she contacted her daughter, she heard him in the background saying he received serious injuries.
Three weeks into the war against Hamas, Israeli authorities told the family Ofir was among those abducted to Gaza. "We know he was seriously injured before being taken captive, because he was heard moaning in pain, and Ofir isn’t someone who screams when he's in pain, so it was likely a severe injury," Shoval said.
"He didn’t deserve this. Ofir is an incredibly caring and funny person, full of light and joy. He is so good and pure that it's hard for me to imagine what he’s going through now in Gaza."