20 Dec, 2023 @ 13:06
1 min read

“We are OK, but I’ve been shot.” The terrifying messages sent by a Spanish victim of the October 7 Hamas attacks in Israel

Spaniard kidnapped by Hamas is dead: Ivan Illarramendi, 46, was taken hostage alongside his wife during savage attack on Israel last month
Spaniard kidnapped by Hamas is dead: Ivan Illarramendi, 46, was taken hostage alongside his wife during savage attack on Israel last month

MESSAGES sent by a Spaniard who was killed during the October 7 Hamas attacks against Israel have been published by online daily El Confidencial. In them, Ivan Illarramendi Saizar, who lived in a kibbutz close to the Gaza Strip, narrates the events of the morning that saw him and his wife, Dafna Garcovich, lose their lives. 

On the day of the surprise attacks, which saw 1,200 people killed, Illarramendi, who was 46, messaged an unnamed contact in Spain to tell them that something was happening. 

“We are having a dangerous morning,” he wrote in Spanish. “We are OK, but they have shot me. They entered my home.”

The first messages were sent at 9.45am Spanish time, according to El Confidencial, the moment when Hamas fighters were assaulting kibbutzim and other Israeli properties along the border with the Gaza strip. 

He then explains to the recipient of the messages that he and his wife have entered their safe room for protection, and makes a request for no phone calls to avoid making any noise. 

“Can I do anything?” the recipient asks. 

“You can’t do anything,” he replies. “They seem to have gone.”

Illarramendi goes on to explain that the attackers threw a grenade at his door, and that he suffered ‘a wound to my arm and shrapnel hit my chest’. 

The door to his house, he continues, had a ‘number of bullet holes’ and a mirror had been shattered. 

The recipient of the messages tells Illarramendi at 10.39am that he will ‘leave him in peace’ and asks him to ‘call when you can’.

“I will,” he replies, the last time he sent a response.

The messages published by El Confidencial show the increasingly panicked attempts of the recipient to get a message from Illarramendi, via a series of messages that were sent until gone 9pm that night. 

A month after the attacks, and with no news of Illarramendi nor his wife, family sources confirmed to El Confidencial that the pair were kidnapped by Hamas fighters and were killed before they could be taken into Gaza.

Illarramendi was from Guipuzcoa province in the Baque Country. His wife was Chilean and had Israeli roots. Her family had been living in the country for around 30 years.

One more Spaniard was killed in the October 7 Hamas attacks: Maya Villalobo, an 18-year-old with joint Spanish-Israeli nationality who was serving in the Israeli military at the time of her death at an army base near the Gaza Strip. 

Spain’s High Court is investigating both the deaths but the cases are likely to be shelved due to the impossibility of locating the alleged perpetrators. 

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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