He planned to propose to her, but they both were murdered by Hamas terrorists

Niv Raviv and Nirel Zini, both coming from contrasting backgrounds, met during their military service; After 8 years together, Nirel was about to propose; Engagement ring found in their burnt home after massacre

Lior Ohana|
The time is 10:04am on Saturday. Nirel Zini sent his family the last message: "I'll update, they're here. I'm putting the phone down, pray." In one hand, Nirel held a knife and in the other the door of the secure room in his home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza. His partner, Niv Raviv, hid under the bed. After that there was no trace of the couple, but on Friday the difficult news arrived: Niv's body was found while her father and brother were at a meeting of the families of the missing; a few hours after that Nirel's body was identified.
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The couple's families, who for a whole week did not receive a phone call from single government agency, decided to organize a war room. On the white-erase board of the Raviv family in Netanya, the days that have passed were written in huge letters, and next to them the phrase: "We are bringing Niv and Nirel home."
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ניב רביב וניראל זיני, זוג מכפר עזה, נרצחו
ניב רביב וניראל זיני, זוג מכפר עזה, נרצחו
Niv Raviv and Nirel Zini, a couple from Kfar Aza, were murdered
Beneath the title appeared dozens of tasks, names of contacts in Israel and around the world; anyone who can provide a clue about the fate of Nirel and Niv. Dozens of people came to the family home. Documents, photos from the field, photos from inside the burned house that the couple who lived in on the kibbutz that suffered the hardest blow in the brutal attack by Hamas terrorists.
But the long-awaited good news did not come. At the end of Shabbat, hundreds of people came to the Shikun Vatikim Cemetery in Netanya and accompanied Niv and Nirel on their final journey with national flags and torches. Under the pouring rain, the funeral procession left for the burial of the couple who loved in their lives and remained together even in death. Religious and secular, right and left supporters, military officers and ultra-Orthodox relatives walked side by side close to the grieving families.
Niv, 27, grew up in Netanya. Middle child to parents Tami and Yoel and sister to her brothers Gil and Shir. Nirel, 31, grew up in Moshav Tlamim to parents Amir and Osnat. He also left behind brothers Matan, Uri and Noam. They met in the army eight years ago. Both were army officers and performed several operational roles. Niv was a captain in the reserves and Nirel was a major in the reserves.
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ניב רביב וניראל זיני, זוג מכפר עזה, נרצחו
ניב רביב וניראל זיני, זוג מכפר עזה, נרצחו
The couple met in the army eight years ago
In her last position, Niv was a special operations officer in the Gaza Division. Eight years ago, Nirel was injured in an operational activity in Hebron. It happened on October 10, 2015, and since then every year on October 10 the two celebrated his survival with a thanksgiving meal. Nirel planned to propose to Niv on the "celebratory" date, but the ring was found in the burnt house in the kibbutz.
Niv, a psychology student, wanted to pursue a master's degree and become a clinical psychologist. Nirel wanted to start studying law this week in order to help soldiers who were physically and mentally injured in the army in legal proceedings. "That's how they were," says Shahar Schechter, the partner of Gil, Niv's older brother. "Always thought of the other. Always wanted to help. Give of themselves. Loved people so much. Loved family. Only give and help those who need it."
"They moved about six months ago to Kibbutz Kfar Aza. They wanted to live in the kibbutz and live a simple life. They said it was paradise. They loved the kibbutz, the community, the people. They were happy there. Niv said she could see their children running on the paths there. Nirel planned to propose to Niv, and she wanted to get married on October 10 next year. They were always busy. Helped, volunteered and donated. They were so good. Helped family and friends," she said.
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הקבר המשותף של ניב רביב וניראל זיני
הקבר המשותף של ניב רביב וניראל זיני
The joint grave of Nir and Nirel
"There are no words to describe what happened, it is a very great loss," Schechter added. "Our Niv had a pure heart. There is no one who did not love her. Niv was very worried about the situation in the country recently. She was very pained by the hatred, the division. Their will is that we must be united - both in the family and in the country. To choose love, to be good. That's how they were."
She said of the day of the Hamas attack: "Hell began, we tried to contact them in every possible way. We searched for them endlessly, we turned over every stone. We opened a war room in Niv's family home and Nirel's family home. We worked together. We reached the most senior officials. We hoped that they might have been kidnapped and are alive and we did everything to find them and bring them back safe and sound. Unfortunately, on Friday we received the difficult news that the bodies of both of them had been identified."
Lior Cohanim, Niv's best friend since childhood, said of the couple: "Niv and Nirel are special people, the kind of people that it is difficult to describe in words the impact they had on their environment. They penetrated deeply into the hearts of everyone they met along the way, coming from different worlds, different cultures and different opinions, and they fit each other like a glove. They had every reason not to be together, but they always chose each other, chose to see the common and unifying thing between them and not the differences.
4 View gallery
ניב רביב וניראל זיני, זוג מכפר עזה, נרצחו
ניב רביב וניראל זיני, זוג מכפר עזה, נרצחו
Niv and Nirel on an overseas trip
"He was originally from Moshav near Sderot, from a religious family. She is from Netanya, from a secular family. Both had impressive military careers, officers in significant positions, raised generations of soldiers who never stop talking about how significant they were to them, and how much Niv and Nirel touched and changed their way of thinking. They had lived in Kfar Aza for five months, and talked about how much they fell in love with the place, with the special community that lives there, quality people who love the Land of Israel, with the joy and freedom of the little children who roam the paths and lawns without fear," he said.
Cohanim added: "They were the funniest and happiest people I know; the kindest, a magnet for people who need help. They helped everyone they met along the way. Niv, a psychology student, was supposed to start the third year of her degree; Last Tuesday she was supposed to take the test for admission to a master's degree program in psychology Clinically because the whole thing was the desire to give and take care of another.
"Nirel managed and worked in the family carpentry business, he was the most talented there is. In addition, Nirel was supposed to start studying law, out of the desire to help others like him, to receive the recognition and entitlement for military veterans who are dealing with post-trauma. Instead of being happy at their wedding, they cried at their funeral. Niv was my best friend, and Nirel was her beloved, my heart is broken and I hope their damned death is not in vain. I will make sure to continue their path, to live to help others."
1,300 memorial candles lit at Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv for Hamas war victims
(Video: Moti Kimchi, Shmulik Davidpur )

Uri Zini, Nirel's brother, said: "It was not captured, how much we hoped, how much we believed, how much we waited. We tried to turn the country around to understand what is happening with them and it just didn't help. It's not easy for us, our hearts are sad but we are strong and we will win."
On a personal note, as a reporter for the Yedioth Ahronoth Group, as a reserve captain in Division 36 who returned from a week in the field for funerals, and as a good friend of Gil, Niv's brother, and as someone who was there and documented the families' difficult times - I learned a lot from them, especially about faith and the love of people. Both families worked hard to bring their children home, and now that this task is over, their next task is to be united, not to blame and not to be angry, just to commemorate the couple who only wanted to do good, even for those who did not want their help. This is the only way to survive this inferno, and to return peace and brotherhood to our State of Israel.
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