Among the thousands of people who had the terrible misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time on October 7th, there were also – as we now all know – many foreigners. People who had little, or no, connection to the long history of violence between Jews and Arabs, Israel and Hamas. Among them were Filipino caregivers, Thai agricultural workers and also a group of Nepali students who had been accepted to an 11-month-long internship at the Sedot Negev Agricultural Training Center.
One of these Nepali students was twenty-two-year-old Louish Rijal, who – prior to being selected for the program – had never left Nepal, and knew next to nothing about Israel. He was nevertheless incredibly excited about the opportunity, as were the rest of the students in his cohort. They had arrived in Israel on September 13th, three-and-a-half weeks before the day that would forever change their lives. Louish was one of the lucky ones – he survived the attacks and has since been evacuated by the Nepali government. We spoke to him on a crackly phone line, shortly after he arrived back home, to the western Nepali village of Bardiya Geruwa.