Ohad spent his 9th birthday as a hostage in Gaza

by Frederic Friedel
10/30/2023 – The story is in all the major international news outlets: Ohad Munder-Zichri "celebrated" his 9th birthday last Monday. Not at home, with his family and friends, but in the Hamas tunnels in Gaza, together with more than 200 hostages taken during the devastating Oct. 7 incursion. Ohad is a chess champion and a champion with the Rubik's cube. He has sent out an invitation to friends to celebrate with him.

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Aron Heller reports on AP news: 

Ohad Munder-Zichri’s 9th birthday is on Monday. But instead of celebrating at home with his family and friends, he is believed to be somewhere in Gaza, one of more than 200 hostages held by Hamas since the militants’ devastating Oct. 7 incursion.

The fourth-grader from the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba was nabbed along with his mother and grandparents during a holiday visit to his grandparents’ kibbutz of Nir Oz along the border with Gaza.

Ohad’s beloved uncle was killed in the attack. The boy, his mom and grandparents disappeared with the only thread of information about them coming from a cellphone signal traced to Gaza.

This is the invitation Ohad sent to his friends to celebrate with him over the weekend.

“I keep imagining what he is going through," writes Ohad’s grief-stricken father, Avi Zichri. "He’s a sensitive boy. Did he see dead bodies? He wears glasses. Did they take them from him? Can he see anything?” Zichri said as he nervously chain-smoked cigarettes on his front porch.

Ohad is Zichri’s only child with his partner, Keren Munder, a 54-year-old special education teacher and volleyball coach for children with disabilities. He’s also the only grandson of Avraham and Ruti Munder, both 78, who disappeared with them from Nir Oz, where about 80 people — nearly a quarter of all residents of the small community — are believed to have been taken hostage. Ohad loved visiting his grandparents and his uncle there.

At home, he is a gifted student who loves solving Rubik’s cubes and playing soccer, tennis and chess. He is a huge fan of Liverpool FC and his bedroom, untouched since his abduction, includes team souvenirs, his various trophies, family photos on the walls and the elaborate Lego constructions he loved to build.

“He’s incredibly smart and charming and is very developed verbally. He teaches me things all the time and I sometimes forget that he is only 9 years old,” Zichri said.

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.