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Woman with Boone County ties dies in Hamas attack on Israel


At least one person killed in Israel has a tie to Mid-Missouri.

CNN reported on Monday that Deborah Matias, an American citizen living in Israel who was born in Boone County, died while shielding her son from bullets fired by Hamas gunmen.

Her father was one of the founding members of the Columbia synagogue, he spoke to CNN about his daughter's death. Her son, Rotem Matias, was shot in the stomach, but is expected to recover. However his father and Deborah's husband, Shlomi Matais, was also killed over the weekend. Shlomi was an Israeli citizen. 

Rabbi Matt Derrenbacher, with Columbia's Beth Shalom Congregation, shared a reflection on the ongoing conflict in Israel after a violent weekend.

"Unfortunately, they are among the hundreds and hundreds of victims, so it is even though it's geographically far away," Derrenbacher said. "It still hits very close to home, being one of our our charter founding members and the community."

The leader of a Mid-Missouri synagogue said late Sunday that the weekend attack on Israel by militants in the Gaza Strip is a "broken glass moment" for the Jewish people, referencing the horrors of the Holocaust.

"On the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, on a day when Jews around the world woke expecting to honor Shabbat and bathe in the joy of our most sacred text, we witnessed the horrors of death, destruction, kidnapping, and war," Derrenbacher said in a written statement.

The conflict between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors is not new, but it's different than other modern wars because the motivations for Israelis are religious in addition to political.

"There are not only nation states interested in the existence of Israel. It's really where a lot of different  religious groups take tremendous symbolic meaning from," said Brian Norris, PhD, an associate professor of political science at Lincoln University.

Norris and other experts are still trying to understand Hamas's motivations. But the reason this attack is so devastating is because the Israeli intelligence was caught off guard.

"Some people are saying this might be kind of like the 9/11 attack for the United States from an Israeli perspective, that it just comes out of the blue," Norris said. "And it might be, if that is the case and it might be overconfidence on the part of the Israeli intelligence forces in the military, which are  relatively strong compared to their their Arab neighbors."

The attacks fell on the Jewish holidays of Shabbat and Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah. This is typically a time of celebration for the Jewish faith.

As of Monday morning, Israel said it had taken control over all the communities surrounding Gaza. According to the Associated Press, the combined death toll on both sides is more than 1,600.

Over the weekend, many of Missouri's elected officials expressed support for Israel.

"Regardless of one’s politics, of relationship to the State of Israel, to the government of Israel, or the Land itself, these actions are never acceptable, and the CoMo Jewish Community unequivocally stands with Israel," Darrenbacher said.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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