Hamas Has His Son Hostage (ft. Jonathan Dekel-Chen)

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I was honored to interview a truly brave man for this episode. Jonathan Dekel-Chen is a member of the Kibbutz Nir Oz, one of the rural residences besieged by Hamas during the October 7 attack.

His entire extended family were there and lived through that harrowing day, and his brave son Saqui was taken captive as a hostage.

Jonathan recounts to us the events of that morning and updates us on what is happening now as, like so many families, they wait anxiously for the return of their loved ones.

This is a MUST-WATCH interview. Please come and join us!

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Transcript

Elaine Beck 0:11
Hi, everyone, Elaine Beck here. And uh, you know, my show is It’s Not About Us. And we’re so happy you’re here today, I have a very special guest today. And I’m gonna let him introduce himself because I told him, I don’t want to mess up his name. This wonderful man,his name is…

Jonathan Dekel-Chen 0:29
Jonathan Dekel-Chen,

Elaine Beck 0:31
say that last name again.

Jonathan Dekel-Chen 0:33
Dekel-Chen

Elaine Beck 0:34
Oh, great. You know, I went over to Israel. I told everybody it was like going home. We all read about it all our lives and hear about it at church. And then we get there and we see all the places that we’ve read about. It’s pretty neat.

Jonathan Dekel-Chen 0:51
It is it is really neat. And I can tell you I live off or lived until October 7, off the beaten track. In an area of the country, that most visitors never make it to write even having said that, one of the landmarks of our area is an old synagogue from the Byzantine period, it has the oldest the oldest mosaic floor of a synagogue anywhere in the country. No matter where are you go in Israel? You’re living history. Even in the most unlikely of places.

Elaine Beck 1:26
I love that. That’s a great story. So what’s the name of the town? And can you give that

Jonathan Dekel-Chen 1:31
the name of my kibbutz my cooperative farm near owes, which means in English of fields of strength or fields of courage.

Elaine Beck 1:40
I love that. That’s beautiful. So let’s get to the subject. Can you tell us about October 7, where you were and what happened in your life?

Jonathan Dekel-Chen 1:52
Well, I’ll take it a step back from there. I’ve lived in Israel since 1981. And almost all of that time has been on this cooperative farm community in the border with Gaza. They say kibbutz scenarios, okay, I’ve raised my kids, their kids who are now adults. And two of my kids decided to come back to the community and raise their young families. So now I also have grandkids on the kibbutz. A real joy. We live in a fairly isolated place. But these people seem these these cooperative farms were created by the Israeli government in the 1940s 1950s, even into the 1960s to first of all be part of the Israel’s breadbasket. Hyper productive firms, but also to be a human barrier between the Gaza Strip, whoever was controlling it, and the body of Israel. And we understood that role. We knew that. On October 7, I happen to not be home. I was in Baltimore, of all places, I’m going to a friend’s wedding, their their son was getting married the next day,

Elaine Beck 3:05
so this was a happy occasion

Jonathan Dekel-Chen 3:07
should have been. Yeah. And the next day after that I was supposed to go to an academic conference. And we were woken up my wife and I very early by a friend in Rhode Island, who had been watching the news and realized something really terrible was happening in our region of Israel. And she woke us up asking what’s going on? I had no idea, of course, and watched the news for a moment and then opened my phone and realized through the internal communication network of the kibbutz that something truly horrific was going on. I then tried to call my son Sagui and his wife, who was seven months pregnant at the time, two little girls, they did not answer any of them. Then I called my daughter, who also lives on the kibbutz. I got a hold of her husband, who told me that would have been about 12:30 in Israel, Israel time, who very briefly gave me a rundown of what was happening. They were sheltering in place, in the bomb shelter connected to their house, we all have them. And he was exchanging fire with Hamas terrorists in and around their home. And my daughter, his wife, and their two boys were in the shelter with three guests of theirs. It just happened to be on the kibbutz that morning. My ex wife, the mother of all my kids, who had escaped Hamas captivity, a couple of hours before was wounded, but it managed to get back to to the safety of that bomb shelter, and they were treating her. That’s kind of all that I knew for the next few hours. because communications was nearly impossible. And I didn’t want to bother them because there was very little that I there was nothing that I could contribute from Baltimore, to a community in crisis. We only learned a few hours later, what the extent of the massacre really was of our community of about 440 people ranging from infants to very senior citizens. We now know that 40 were murdered that day. 80 were taken hostage and to Gaza. Our homes were burned, our property looted. And our way of life destroyed on that morning, my son, and we lost contact with him. The community lost contact with him at around 9:30 That morning. Like many other young men, and not so young men, he was trying to defend the kibbutz. But it was impossible. We now know that over 200 Hamas commando terrorists had infiltrated the kibbutz that morning, there were 1000s that came across the border. 200 of them came into our kibbutz. There’s just a handful of first responders that did what they could, but it was impossible. And those Hamas commandos were followed by several 100 looters. Most of them civilians, from grannies, to little kids who proceeded as I said, to take all of our property, whatever they couldn’t take, they burned. So this desert paradise that we have built by had built and lived in and really no longer exists. It’s a burnt shell. And it’s unclear when if ever, it will be rebuilt, and even if it is rebuilt, who is going to want to go back to this place of immense trauma. There’s no one in our community that wasn’t directly touched by what happened that morning,

Elaine Beck 6:43
and your son, tell us about your son

Jonathan Dekel-Chen 6:46
My son, Sagui is the son the child that every parent would love to have? He’s 35 years old. Now the father of three, he does not know if his family survived, none of the hostages that are still in Gaza know what happened to their families or their friends in our communities. Which is a horrific thought four and a half months later, right. So he grew up on a kibbutz kind of, by my side, he didn’t like school very much. So he came to work with me in the kibbutz agricultural machine shop, and spent a lot of time growing up in that shop and in the fields with me, and servicing agricultural equipment. He’s a builder and a creator, right. And that morning of October 7, and he like, other saturday weekend mornings, he was out I’m doing or pushing forward a pet project of his which was to take old buses, and to convert them into usable objects. Okay. And that morning, he was in the midst of converting four old buses, into mobile technology classrooms, to service underserved communities, in our area of the country in the southern part of the country.

Elaine Beck 8:03
And so now Where is your son and the family?

Jonathan Dekel-Chen 8:07
Well my son, my son is a hostage. We don’t know where he is, we assume he’s somewhere like the rest of the hostages from our kibbutz and elsewhere, somewhere between Khan Yunus and raffia, and then wife and children, his wife, and now three daughters, his wife gave birth to their third daughter, almost two months ago. They are now with the survivors of the community of the Nero’s community, in a small town in Israel as we try to rebuild our lives and figure out what’s next. We really don’t know. And we’re still we can’t even grieve yet, because many of the bodies of those who were murdered, are still being held by Hamas, we were not able to bury our dead. And we still have to grieve over the homes, the property and the way of life that we’ve lost, that really can’t be reconstructed. And figuring out what’s the next thing that we should do? How can we go about resurrecting our lives, making them meaningful, meaningful, while waiting for these 40 people or so 30 people that are still held hostage among the 133 that we believe are still alive. 30 of them are my extended family.

Elaine Beck 9:23
And we know I I have to say something. I wanted everybody to hear your story uninterrupted about your son, your family, your kibbutz, all of it. Okay. Because now I’m going to speak to all of you. You know, there’s so many people out there in this country who are doing the wrong thing, that they’re not understanding the truth about what happened on October 7, and who was at fault and I have been up hauled at knowing that people in this country that is a Judeo Christian country, are not supporting these people. I hope that hearing his story will help you better understand and share with those that don’t understand, so that we can get past this. Because everybody in this country should be praying for all of you. You are not just our greatest ally, you are God’s chosen people. And we love you. And we love everything that you stand for. And we, as I told you, before, when I went to Israel, I felt like I was going home. Because it is all of our home, all of us that are believers in Jesus believers in the Bible. We know that that is the place that God has chosen to put his people. And so I want to thank you. We’re already out of our time. But I want to thank you, sir, and tell you and ask everybody to pray for you and your family, especially your son and his name again, is Segui?

Jonathan Dekel-Chen 11:21
Sequi.

Elaine Beck 11:21
Sequi. please everyone, pray for Segui pray for his family. Pray for his it’s a community it’s what we would know is a community is little town. They call it a caboose

Jonathan Dekel-Chen 11:34
kibbutz.

Elaine Beck 11:35
And, and so pray for all of them. Did you hear the loss? Did you hear the inability to even mourn at this point, and the things that were done to them, please, please pray for them. Thank you again for being here and taking the time to stop by and do this show with me. It meant the world to me. And if I could pray for you now, I’d really love to do that.

Jonathan Dekel-Chen 11:59
Sure, thank you,

Elaine Beck 12:00
Heavenly Father, we come before you in the name of Jesus. And we just love you, Lord, we praise You. And we thank you for all that you’re doing to nurture and help these people, God be with those that are in prison and, and give them the strength to get through, particularly Sequi. And we just we just think now of all those people that are struggling their losses, and trying to fit into a new life that happened suddenly for all of them to be put through this terror this hell. God, we know that you’re with them. We know that only you can give them peace in the storm that only you can answer their questions and save their people. God, we just love you so much. And we thank you and we ask a special blessing on all of them right here and now in Jesus name, amen.

Jonathan Dekel-Chen 12:57
Amen. Thank you.

Elaine Beck 12:58
Thank you and God bless you. And thank all of you and please pray for them all the time. We cannot stop we must know that the more prayers that are raised, the sooner things will be done. You know, I always pray for you. God bless

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