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Mom of Israeli woman killed by Hamas worries for American friends amid ‘antisemitic’ demonstrations

Hannie Ricardo detailed the harrowing three days between her last correspondence with her youngest daughter and receiving the news that she had been gunned down by Hamas militants.

The bereaved mother of an Israeli festival-goer gunned down by Hamas militants earlier this month is urging Americans to "wake up" about the terrorists' support and told Fox News Digital she will "shout … until they start listening."

"I turned New York into my home. I made a lot of Americans my friends. Now, I worry for them," Hannie Ricardo told Fox News Digital amid anti-Israeli demonstrations across the city and other parts of the U.S.

Ricardo, a former lecturer at New York's Yeshiva University pursuing a master's degree at Hunter College, said she was slated to move into a new apartment last Sunday. Her youngest daughter, Oriya, had plans to visit.

"But instead of that, I buried my kid on Sunday," the 58-year-old said.

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Ricardo quit her job and halted her studies after receiving word that 26-year-old Oriya was missing in the wake of Hamas' brutal assault in Israel that began Oct. 7 and killed more than 1,400 people. 

"The moment I heard there was an attack, I took my phone and saw her message," Ricardo told Fox News Digital.

"Mom, I love you so much," Oriya's final correspondence said.

"I tried to call back, but, of course, it was too late. She never answered my calls," Ricardo recalled. "I thought she was hiding, and she put [her phone] on silent mode."

Oriya, who "loved dancing," was an unsuspecting attendee at the Supernova music festival in the Negev desert. Haunting footage, since broadcast worldwide, showed festival-goers dancing at dawn before recognizing the sounds of gunfire as they were under siege by militants shooting from motorized paragliders, trucks and black vans. 

The lives of at least 260 civilian revelers were claimed, making the event among the worst civilian mass casualty incidents in Israeli history. A complete count has yet to be announced. Ricardo said that "the human vocabulary doesn't have a word yet to describe this kind of massacre." 

On Oct. 8, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that "Israel [was] at war." 

That afternoon, Ricardo boarded a flight to her war-torn home country, where she reported Oriya missing and provided authorities with a sample of her DNA. 

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She stayed with the family of Oriya's boyfriend, a "wonderful family" Ricardo said she should have met "when [the couple] decided to get married."

Days before her daughter was found, Ricardo recalled, she told a news outlet she was "waiting for [Oriya] to come back so [she] could hug her." 

"I spoke about her courage. She was a courageous girl, an amazing girl," Ricardo told Fox News Digital. "I said, 'She's probably hiding,' and I expected her to come out when things [were] quiet."

Beside himself with worry after days of no news, Ricardo said, Oriya's boyfriend "took his car and drove down there himself" Oct. 10.

"He was about to find my daughter's body, hiding and pretty much dead," she said. "She was murdered. She was shot in the head."

Oriya was "the most loyal friend you could ask for," and a "cheerful girl with a charming smile who had to hug" who could "conquer anything – especially the hearts of people," her mother said.

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"She was this chic person," Ricardo recalled. "She's like a model going to the runway always — always. Very well-dressed. She was extremely beautiful. Really beautiful. It's not only her beauty outside, she was a beautiful person inside and out. Kind and loving and considerate and the best listener ever.

"She was my heart – now it's dead," the mother added. "I don't know how you live without a heart. I know that I speak out of grief, and losing her is beyond words. I don't have words to describe this."

Now, Ricardo is unsure whether she will return to the states to finish her degree.

She said she worries about Americans who "don't hesitate to take a side without thinking. It's very easy, you know. They don't know what Hamas is like. … They equal ISIS and al Qaeda and those who caused American 9/11. They might be even worse than that.

"[In America], you have your freedom of speech. I know it's a very strong thing in America. I lived there," Ricardo added. "But the interpretation of freedom of speech needs to be discussed, because when freedom of speech becomes freedom of hate it becomes a whole different thing." 

Ricardo, who has a master's degree in Jewish studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, called this month's attack on Israel the "Holocaust of 2023." 

"My mom was a Holocaust survivor. She passed away a year ago. My father came over before [the creation of the] state of Israel. … Now, I'm a mother of one girl that didn't survive the Holocaust of 2023," Ricardo said. "I have a lot of history with Holocausts. Now, I have my own personal one."

Ricardo's message to people opposing Israel?

"Wake up and start doubting." 

"Americans, a lot of Americans, especially in the law schools [like] Harvard, Yale, NYU, Columbia, Georgetown … they are rewriting history," she said. "Anti-Israel is simply the modern antisemitic thing, it's no different."

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