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Daughter of Retired Brandeis Professor Killed in Hamas Attack While on Phone With Father

A retired Brandeis University professor said he was on the phone with his daughter in Israel the moment she was killed by Hamas gunfire.

Ilan Troen, an Israeli scholar and professor emeritus at Brandeis, told “CNN This Morning” on Monday that he was talking to his daughter, Deborah Matias, on the phone when terrorists forced their way into her home and killed her while she was shielding her 16-year-old son. Her husband, and Troen’s son-in-law, was also killed during the attack.

“The terrorists came into their place, broke through the doors, shot them,” Troen told CBS News Boston.

Matias’s son managed to survive the attack and find a place to hide, Troen said.

“We were on the phone the entire day with our grandson, Rotem, as he lay first under her body, and then found a place to escape under a blanket in a laundry,” Troen told CNN, later clarifying that he was texting with his grandson throughout the day.

“He was told not to speak and therefore he was to hide and use texting,” Troen said. “By the time he was rescued, he had 4% left in his battery.”

“The brunt of the shot was borne by his mother,” Troen said, calling his daughter a “child of light and life.”

“My grandson has witnessed the murder of his mother by people who rehearsed what they were doing,” he told CBS.

Troen said that his daughter decided to become a musician and attended the Berkeley College of Music in Boston and the Rimon School of Music in Tel Aviv, where she met her husband.

“She, rather than becoming a scientist or a physician, she said to me one day, ‘Dad, I have to do music, because it’s in my soul,’” Troen said.

Troen is the Karl, Harry, and Helen Stoll Professor of Israel Studies, Emeritus. He is also the founding director of Brandeis’ Schusterman Center of Israel Studies.

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