Faces of Iron: Danny

Stand for Israel  |  June 4, 2024

Security guard speaks with Yael.
(Photo: Guy Yechiely)

Danny is an Israeli. He’s a firefighter. He’s a survivor. He’s a hero.

But that’s not how Danny sees himself when he begins his story of October 7th.
“First of all, I want to talk about myself as a father,” Danny begins, “and about my daughter and her husband.”

Yes, Danny begins his story by telling of his beloved daughter, who lived less than a hundred feet from the home where he and his wife had raised her on Kibbutz Kissufim near Israel’s border with Gaza.
“Dafna was together with Ivan in their saferoom,” Danny remembers. The couple sheltered against the terrorist invaders in their own saferoom, the same as Danny and his wife were barricaded inside their own home’s shelter.

Over their cellphones, Danny heard his daughter crying out, “The terrorists are trying to get into the house. They are breaking down the doors and coming in.”
Dafna’s cries grew more frantic: “They are breaking everything they see, and they are trying to break down the door of the shelter.”

Soon, the words no parent could bear to hear. “Help! Help! They are already inside! The house is already starting to burn.”

Only fifty yards away, Danny was trapped, brokenhearted, because “I could not do a thing, because I had all the means to put out that fire, or at least part of it. I could not go out. They are shooting and burning everything.”

Because Danny is not just a father, he is the commander of the volunteer fire and rescue services that serve the entire of region of Israelis living near the Gaza border. The same region attacked on October 7th. The same region where he and his family live.

Despite fire equipment nearby, Danny could do nothing as his daughter’s house burned and his daughter and her husband lost their lives.

But as soon as those residents who had survived the attacks were able to emerge, Danny and his wife were among them. And Danny, while a grieving father, also let his instincts as a firefighter take over, and began managing the evacuation of those who were still alive.

It was only later that the ashes of Dafna’s house were searched. Two initial searches by the military found nothing. But a third search—performed by Danny’s own rescue crews—found what remained of two bodies, clenched in an embrace. Danny’s daughter and son-in-law hadn’t died from fire or smoke, but rather from terrorist gunfire. And they had died in each other’s arms.

The Fellowship has provided support to Danny and his community in the months since the attacks that took away from him the thing he loved most. And while Danny mourns his beloved daughter, this support gives him strength to keep going: “I think that the bigger mission is to protect what we have, what we have right now, and what we have is all the people that are here. We will lick our wounds. We will go back there, to the place where we live, and rebuild, from the beginning.”

Read more Faces of Iron stories and learn how The Fellowship is helping survivors of October 7.