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Renowned scholar who recently earned PhD among Americans killed by Hamas in Israel


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One of the 11 Americans who were killed in the Hamas attack on Israel has been identified as a 32-year-old academic from Seattle who was hiding in a kibbutz closet when terrorists burst in.

Hayim Katsman, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies in 2021, was living in Holit, a kibbutz near the Gaza Strip border, as he worked on research, the Seattle Times reported.

His mother, Hanna Katsman, told ABC News that she initially thought he had been abducted but later found out he had been killed by the invading terrorists early Saturday.

“I’ve been getting so many messages from people who worked with Hayim or who knew him, or who met him during their travels and how warm he was, how open,” she told the outlet. “He was a very accepting person and a very loyal friend. He had a good sense of humor. He took things in stride.”

Avital Alajem, a friend and neighbor who was with Katsman when he died, told CNN that she was hiding with him in the closet when the terrorists broke in and shot him.

Alajem, who was unhurt in the attack, credited Katsman for saving her life before she was kidnapped and taken to Gaza along with two children.

She told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that she and the kids were later released.

“Hayim in Hebrew is life. That’s the meaning of his name. And he gave life to this planet as he saved me, and I was able to save two kids,” she said.

Katsman — who lived in the city of Petah Tikva before moving to the kibbutz — was remembered Monday by his friends and professors at the University of Washington as an empathetic person.

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

His dissertation, which focused on religious Zionism in Israel, was dedicated to “all life forms that exist between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, according to the Seattle Times.

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

Former roommate and classmate Francis Abugbilla described Katsman as a “sweet soul.”“On Saturday morning, I texted him ‘Hey Hayim, I hope you are OK amidst the current situation,’ ” he told the outlet. “He read it, but I didn’t hear back from him.”

A fellow alum later informed Abugbilla that Katsman was dead.

“It feels like a dream to me. I can’t believe we’ve lost such a fine scholar … who was out there to make the world a better place for everyone,” he said.

“He was always someone who would fight for the less privileged. For us to keep his memory, we all need to live up to what he stood for,” Abugbilla added.

Charlie-Moshé Elias, who met Katsman while in the UW’s Jewish Studies program, said the scholar had advocated for peace in the region and critiqued the Israeli government.

Liora Halperin, a UW professor of international studies and history who was on Katsman’s dissertation committee, told the outlet that “his work helps illuminate some of the very dynamics that have brought us to this moment.”

In 2020, ​Katsman won the Baruch Kimmerling prize for best graduate paper, Association for Israel Studies, according to the UW website.

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