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Brandeis professor’s daughter, son-in-law killed shielding son from Hamas gunmen in Israel attacks

The daughter and son-in-law of a Brandeis University professor were killed shielding their teenage son with their bodies when Hamas terrorists invaded their home in Israel over the weekend, the educator has revealed.

Ilan Troen, an Israeli scholar who recently retired from his role at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, said his daughter, Debbie Shahar Troen Mathias, and her husband, Shlomi Mathias, had been sheltering in a safe room when the Gaza gunmen entered their home and opened fire, killing the couple and injuring their son, 16-year-old Rotem Mathias.

“My daughter and son-in-law were killed today, but, in their dying, saved [my teenage grandson’s] life. They followed his body. They were all together in the secure room. And they covered his body, and he was saved,” Troen told NPR.

“He – nevertheless, a bullet penetrated them and went into his abdomen,” he said, though their son survived.

Heartfelt tributes poured in for the couple, with one describing Shlomi as “a person full of love who loved to make music, who loved to teach, who loved life and who loved the country he lived in.”

A friend of Debbie’s said she was a “beautiful soul ” and shared a snapshot of the couple.

“I can’t believe My friend and fellow poet Debbie Shahar Troen Mathias and her husband were murdered in this senseless and horrific attack on Israel,” Ayala Zarfjian wrote on Facebook.

“We wrote poetry online and encouraged one another. She was a beautiful soul. Last week, I felt so happy to see lovely pics from their vacation in the Netherlands. Rest in peace.”

Brandeis University confirmed Troen’s daughter and son-in-law were among the 600 Israeli citizens killed during the surprise attack from the Hamas terrorists.

“We at Brandeis are deeply saddened to learn that Professor Troen has lost his daughter and son-in-law in the tragic events that are currently taking place in Israel. Ilan, a Brandeis alumnus, and his family have long been treasured members of the Brandeis community, and we hold Ilan, his wife Carol, and his entire family in our thoughts,” the university wrote in a statement to WBZ.

BREAKING: Brandeis University confirms their professor’s daughter and son-in-law were killed in the attacks in Israel. Prof. Ilan Troen and his wife Carol are longtime members of Brandeis. #wbz

“We condemn in the strongest way terrorism such as we have seen today perpetrated against innocent civilians,” the statement continued.

As the news spread online, Martin Kramer, a historian at Tel Aviv University, noted Troen had recently returned to Israel upon his retirement.

“We condemn in the strongest way terrorism such as we have seen today perpetrated against innocent civilians,” the statement continued.

“My friend Ilan Troen, who has done so much for Israel studies in America, has suffered an unimaginable loss. He just recently retired from Brandeis and returned home to Israel. A miracle wrapped in tragedy,” Kramer wrote.

Follow along with The Post’s live blog for the latest on Hamas’ attack on Israel

In an article published on the university’s website in 2017, announcing Troen’s retirement, he said he always encouraged the study of Israel “not with collaboration nor with abject criticism, but as one would study other societies with all their complexities and contradictions.”

On Sunday, the security cabinet in Israel officially voted to declare war — the first since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu braced the Jewish State for a “long and difficult war” Sunday as his administration retaliated against the surprise attack from the Hamas terrorists that killed at least 600 Israeli citizens.

“We are embarking on a long and difficult war. The war was forced upon us by a murderous attack by Hamas. The first phase ends in these hours by destroying most of the enemy forces that have penetrated our territory,” Netanyahu declared, per a translation.

“We will restore security to the citizens of Israel and we will win.”

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