In Memoriam of:

Eliyahu Margalit

Age: 75

From: Kibbutz Nir Oz

In Loving Memory of the Innocent Souls Taken Too Soon. United in peace, their light shines on in the hearts left behind. October 7, 2023, a day of sorrow, but their memories guide us toward a hopeful tomorrow.

Eliyahu “Churchill” Margalit, 75, was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7. On December 1, the IDF announced that Margalit had been killed in captivity and his body was still being held in Gaza.

The military said it made its declaration “based on findings that were collected, and intelligence.” His daughter, Nili Margalit, 40, was also kidnapped on October 7, and was released from Hamas captivity on November 30.

He is survived by his wife, Daphna, children Noa, Danny and Nili and three grandchildren.

Loved ones reported that Eliyahu Margalit left his home early that Saturday morning to feed his beloved horses in the kibbutz stable and that his horses were also taken along with him.

Margalit was responsible for many years for the kibbutz’s cattle. In 2019, the business publication The Marker spoke to him about the beef industry and the kibbutz’s decision to shut down that branch in 2018 — a decision “which broke Churchill’s heart.”

Sivan Klingbail, the editor-in-chief of The Marker, who grew up on Nir Oz, described Margalit as “always wearing work clothes and boots, pulling a feed cart, tending to a sick calf — seven days a week.”

Klingbail wrote that Margalit arrived on the kibbutz in 1969 with a youth group, and ever since then raised cattle, overseeing the herd’s expansion from around 50 calves to 5,500 a year at its peak.

Gilad Sharon, the son of late prime minister Ariel Sharon, wrote in Ynet about his decades-long friendship with Margalit, built after he took over his father’s ranch in the south.

“We met years ago. He was the most prominent cattle breeder in the country, and we got the calves to start our herd from him,” wrote Sharon. “There was an instant connection. Despite the gap in our ages, we became soulmates. He knew I would do anything for him, and I knew it was mutual.”

Sharon said that aside from Margalit’s wife, “everyone called him Churchill. He wouldn’t even turn around if you called him by any other name.” Margalit was “something like a western Negev version of Zorba the Greek. Everyone was beguiled by the man who was nothing but love for animals and the innocent heart of a child inside a large frame with an unkempt beard.”

He wrote that Churchill died doing one of the things he loved most, feeding his beloved horses: “The whole kibbutz was in flames, with terrorists everywhere, and Churchill went to the stables instead of staying with Daphna and his granddaughter Romi in the secure room in their home. There he was slaughtered by the barbarians, next to the horses he loved. He just couldn’t let them go hungry.”
Source: The Times of Israel 

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