Bedouin Israeli businessman Sami Elkrenawi owns five small hotels in the Negev Desert, mostly in the town of Mitzpeh Ramon.
Since the start of the war, he has hosted – at his own expense – evacuated families from the Gaza border communities in 50 hotel rooms, complete with food and drink.
He also buys them clothing since many of these refugees lost everything in the vicious attacks. Plus, he gives donations of supplies to IDF soldiers stationed in the south.
“My family serves in the army. We love Israel. And we feel so bad about what’s happening — no Muslim should accept this,” he says, emphasizing that killings and kidnappings, torching houses, and other atrocities committed by Hamas are not sanctioned in his religion.
Elkrenawi tells ISRAEL21c that he had a bad feeling something would happen on October 7, the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War that also began with a surprise attack.
“I knew Hamas was getting weapons from Iran and would attack one day. I said, on 7 October this year it’s a Saturday and it’s a Jewish holiday [Simchat Torah] and I think there will be a surprise to Israel from Iran or Lebanon. I wasn’t thinking about Gaza. And I heard the first boom at 7 in the morning. I couldn’t believe what those animals did.”
Families praising Elkrenawi on social media say that he refused to accept any payment. But with his expenses now adding up to million shekels, he began seeking donors to help him continue providing free room and board at the Adama Boutique Hotel, Selina Desert Garden, Tzukim, Sol, and Selina Tzukim Arava. Minister of Diaspora Affairs Amichai Chikli is helping Elkrenawi secure donations.