Sapir Cohen at King David Linksfield
Sapir Cohen at King David LinksfieldBenjy Stoch

Despite the South African government’s hostile anti-Israel stance, released Hamas hostage Sapir Cohen received a warm welcome in South Africa.

Cohen returned this week to Israel from a visit to South Africa to inspire and support the South African Jewish community. “I was warned numerous times not to go to South Africa,” Cohen explained, “but I realized my visit was all the more critical. I wanted to share the truth of 7 October and to campaign for the release of all hostages including my boyfriend Sasha Troufanov.”

Yesterday, the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization released a video displaying Sasha Troufanov in captivity.

The heartfelt campaign of Cohen in South Africa was organized by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) in partnership with the Base community of Johannesburg.

Saul Jassinowsky, one of the driving forces behind the initiative, explained, “South Africa’s warm and Zionist Jewish community and the country’s natural beauty offer Sapir a warm and safe embrace. It is a special place for former hostages to visit and exhale after experiencing unimaginable trauma. We are working tirelessly to bring out more hostages in the future and facilitate whatever we can do for them.”

Cohen’s key message to the community was that when all Jews unite, they are very strong. This was highlighted to her by one of her Hamas captors in Gaza. Limited to only 600 people in person at the Base including South Africa’s chief rabbi and representatives of the German and Israel embassies, her presentation was also watched by more than 3000 online.

Cohen also attended a challah bake at the Base where there were fervent prayers for the release of Troufanov and all the hostages. She then spoke at King David High School.

She was treated to some time out on the picturesque island of Mauritius by Rabbi Laima and Mushki Barber of the local Chabad and the JNF-KKL branch headed by Michelle Ellis. She was then hosted for a safari at the Kruger National Park during her two-week stay.

Michael Kransdorff, chairman of JNF South Africa said: “The South African Jewish community and many sectors of South African society stand with Israel. We are doing all we can to raise awareness of the hostages and to secure their release. Sapir’s visit inspired our community with her story of strength, survival, and hope. We are grateful for her visit as the community both Jewish and non-Jewish alike, have been feeling deserted and betrayed by the ANC government’s constant negative attacks on Israel.”

Rabbi Aharon Zulberg from the Base added, "Sapir's captivating energy and phenomenal outlook on life entranced us all and showed us how to make the best of every imaginable situation. Going forward, we are working to bring out other released hostages. We want to do whatever we can for them. Counterintuitively, Sapir brought an amazing perspective and positivity to us all. Whatever we have facilitated for her, she has done so much more for us."

Cohen thanked KKL-JNF, the Base, Saul and Shevi Jassinowsky and Ronit Beleli for sending her to South Africa. “It was a very positive experience”, she said.