Wife of Barkan terror victim opens up in touching interview

Two and a half months after losing her husband in a terror attack, Natalie Hajbi discusses her life without Ziv.  

By World Israel News

Just a few days ago, two and a half months after losing his father Ziv Hajbi (36) in a terrorist attack at the Barkan industrial zone in Samaria, his son Guy agreed to approach the chessboard again. He was crowned last year as the Rishon Lezion chess champion for his age class.

Ziv “invested everything in the children,” said his widow Natalie (35) in an interview with the Yedioth Aharonoth daily, her first since losing her husband to terrorism. There was no one happier than he, she said.

Since Ziv’s death, Guy had stopped playing. He said “it reminds him of Dad.”

During the Shiva, the seven days of morning, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the family and promised Guy that he would play chess with him. A few days ago, at Netanyahu’s invitation, the family arrived at the prime minister’s office and Netanyahu fulfilled his promise. He pulled out a chessboard and little Guy, for the first time since the attack, agreed to play.

“They played, and because of the long time that the game lasted they stopped it in the middle, photographed the chessboard, and the prime minister promised to continue the game,” said Natalie, who hopes that Guy will return to the chess club in the next few days. “There is no choice,” she said. “The children have to get back to their routine.”

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For two and a half months she remained silent, preferring to protect her privacy, especially regarding the children – twins Shir and Guy (7) and Adi (4). Less than a month ago, she finally internalized the fact that her husband, who had left for a day’s work, will not return home.

“On November 20 I had a birthday, and I made a decision: We get used to a group of four people at home, to a situation in which a mother also needs to serve as a father for three children,” she said.

‘Ziv was my first love’

With tearful eyes, Natalie described the longing for her husband, the love of her youth.

“Ziv was my first love. He was my first boyfriend. He was really torn off from me and the kids… We had many more plans, we talked about another boy or girl.”

Ziv, a certified public accountant, worked at the Alon factory in the Barkan industrial zone and aspired to advance to the role of CFO. He was murdered two and a half months ago along with another employee, Kim Levengrund-Yechezkel.

“That morning, October 7, even before I left the house, I heard about an attack in Barkan,” Natalie recalled in pain. “I called him and he did not answer. In the car, I called again and he did not answer again, and then I heard on the radio a report that was etched in my memory: ‘A terrorist attack in Barkan, two critically and another victim was taken to the hospital.’ I heard the word ‘Barkan’ and Ziv did not answer me or call, so I made a U-turn and went home to wait for them to come and notify me.”

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They were together for 18 years, nine of them as friends and nine as a married couple.

“We really grew up together,” said Natalie. “We got married at a young age, we had three wonderful children. He was my best friend, and the children were his whole world. On the morning of the attack, he still took the time to call and remind me to wrap the Torah notebook for the children. ”

Since then, she continued, life has become a survival battle. “I feel like I’m in a storm in the sea when I’m pulled down hard to drown, and I barely manage to keep my head above the water, just survive. I miss Ziv’s embrace, I cry all the time. It’s hard for me and the children to be without Ziv, who was a husband, a friend and the most amazing father… At the last parent-teacher meeting, Ziv was not there with us to hear how Guy and Shir – in whom he invested so much – were so successful.”

Being strong for the kids

Natalie tries to be strong for the children’s sake. “Four-year-old Adi is still waiting for his father to suddenly come in. When it rained in recent days, he asked if it was cold for Dad and who was covering him.”

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At night, when the longing is unbearable, Natalie listens to recordings of conversations the couple had. “His voice makes the pain a little easier,” she explains. “Ziv was really a life teacher for me and the children, and now, in the turbulent days and in the most difficult moments we go through, we need him with us more than ever.”

On Friday, in Moshav Nir Yisrael in the south, where Ziv grew up, a playground named “Gan Ziv” will be inaugurated in his memory. “It gives me and his family some consolation that Ziv, who loved children very much, will be memorialized through a playground, where there is life and happy children are playing.”