The head of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, Ofir Libstein, has been remembered as a ‘true mensch’ after he was tragically killed by Hamas terrorists while defending his community.
Libstein was a friend of JNF Australia and partnered with the organisation’s campaign to build 14 protected kindergartens in Sha’ar HaNegev to keep children safe.
JNF Australia CEO Dan Springer told The AJN that Libstein was a special individual, “a great friend and a wonderful partner on many projects throughout Sha’ar HaNegev.”
“Always smiling, always positive, with a unique and infectious laugh,” Springer said.
“Ofir joined us in Australia late last year for our main campaign, as we went around the country to raise funds for 14 protected kindergartens for Gaza border communities and we collaborated until recently on a major innovation centre, which he will sadly not see come to fruition.
“However, the fruits of his vision will be enjoyed by many residents for years to come.”
Libstein spoke to The AJN late last year when his region was again on the receiving end of a barrage of rockets fired over from Gaza. At the time, he said it was scary knowing there were people shooting hundreds of rockets at his community.
“From the minute they start until the end, five times in an hour, you run to the shelters and stay there. It was very scary,” Libstein said in August 2022.
“Our kibbutzim have shelters for everyone, but when it starts we take out all the children and the mothers from the area. We sent almost 2000 out from here to the north or to the Dead Sea. It’s not a place for kids to stay in situations like this – it’s a very intense situation. Most of our children, unfortunately, need psychological treatment.”
On Saturday, Libstein was one of the first victims named following the surprise attack by Hamas, who had infiltrated the Sha’ar Hanegev region.
“Following the terrorist attack that is now taking place in the surrounding communities, we update with great sadness and pain that the head of the regional council, Ofir Liebstein, was killed in an exchange of fire with terrorists,” the council announced in a statement.
“Ofir was killed when he went out to defend the town during the terrorist attack. The council’s management, employees, and the entire Sha’ar Hanegev community are saddened by his passing.”
Springer, along with JNF Australia, is mourning the tragic loss of Libstein.
“Ofir’s life ended as it was lived, bravely fighting for his community,” Springer said.
“The most decent of individuals, a true mensch, the loss to his family, community, Israel and all of us is immense. May his memory and legacy of service always serve as a blessing.”