SEATTLE - A vigil took place for Hayim Katsman on the University of Washington campus Tuesday night, where a group of around 200 gathered to remember the former student and to honor others who have died during the attacks by Hamas in Israel.
Hayim's sibling, Noy Katsman, talked with FOX 13 about Hayim's life and how the family is doing during this difficult time.
"It’s so sad for me this is what’s happened to him, a person who believed in peace," said Noy.
The outpouring of support in Seattle and at the UW campus where Hayim went to school has been touching for the family.
"I’m so happy my brother inspired so many people," said Noy.
Hayim was one of six siblings. Their dad was originally from Seattle, and their mom from Cincinnati. The kids grew up near Tel Aviv.
"We were a lot of kids, it wasn’t always easy, but today I am really proud of him," said Noy.
Family members say Hayim lived with his paternal grandfather while studying relations between Palestine and Israel at UW. Noy said Hayim often wrote about "right-wing extremists" living in Israel, something that wasn't lost on those that loved him, following the attacks.
"He was killed by a really right-wing extremist organization from the Gaza Strip, which is Hamas," said Noy. "It’s our enemies. It’s the people who just want hate and violence and don’t care about anyone, and my brother was, like, a peace activist."
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Hayim lived at a Kibbutz near the border with Gaza. Noy said their brother worked as a car mechanic and ran the community garden. His goal was to one day become a professor. Noy said Hayim lived with a group of friends near Gaza because housing prices were so expensive elsewhere in Israel.
His family believes that the terrorists likely took advantage of the location and layout of the Kibbutz during their attack.
"Houses in the Kibbutz are very easy to break in[to]," said Noy. "It’s not like they have serious locks. It’s like a small place, friendly, you know. It’s not like a house with a lock. Sadly, that helped these terrorists."
Hayim died while protecting a neighbor. She talked about his heroism during an interview Tuesday. Noy says there was a last minute text exchange with Hayim before the phone went silent.
"I was in Germany when I heard the news on Saturday," said Noy. "So, I wrote to my brother a message. He wrote to me that he’s fine, then I wrote to him again, and he didn’t answer me.
The family says they must now wait for Hayim's body to be released, before they can proceed with the funeral and traditional grieving process.
"We don’t even know when the funeral will be, because there are so many bodies, and they couldn’t get it yet. I’m sure everything will brighten up in a few days, or weeks hopefully," said Noy.
Noy says as the family waits, they want others to honor Hayim by calling for peace.
"I want us to support the people who call for calming down and for peace, and for saving lives, not the people who call for more hate and more violence, that’s my request to everyone and I know that’s exactly what my brother would want to do," said Noy.