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The terrorists were at our doorstep. I sat there with my son, petrified

  • Noam G.'s story

08:10 was the last time he answered

Saturday, October 7th, 2023 06:00: Alarms were going off on my phone, showing red alerts everywhere. I thought to myself, there are bombs; we’ll just stay in our bomb shelter, and it will end.I could not have imagined what the following hours would inflict upon me and my family. Amit, my son, was alone in his room in the youth neighborhood area of the kibbutz. He called his mom, asking what he should do. She told him to stay in the shelter and don’t go out. She called every few minutes to check up on him.

08:10 was the last time he answered. 08:17 was the last time that we saw him active on WhatsApp.

06:38: Harel reported a shooting and asked anyone who could to come out and help. I found myself with Yaniv at the northern corner of the new construction complex, trying to guard the fence. Suddenly, five vans loaded with terrorists make their way up north on route 232.

I asked Harel, “Are the gates locked?” He answered yes. I was relieved. The convoy stopped at the kibbutz entrance, next to the bus stop. Young people from the party (Nova Festival) were hiding in the bus stations outside, taking cover from the bombs. And I’m imagining to myself, what is going on there? I put my thoughts about Amit on hold while thinking about what we should do now. How do we protect our home? The yellow gate opened and made way for the horror.

“The yellow gate opened and made way for the horror. Gunfire was everywhere.”

Gunfire was everywhere. It was directed towards us, and we saw specks of dust rising from the bullets. Yaniv asked me, “How are we supposed to handle something like this?” We use the walkie-talkie, which for some reason still works, to report that the kibbutz had been infiltrated. At the same time, we hear Niv on the walkie-talkie fighting terrorists in the area of the kibbutz where the tents and community centers are located. We didn’t know what to do.

“I was also afraid, very afraid. All of our training was focused on fighting off a single terrorist squad. Not dozens.”

The sounds of gunfire and explosions never stopped. With a feeling of hopelessness, we both headed back to our houses, thinking we had no chance. When I got home, I didn’t think I could fight. I was also afraid, very afraid. All of our training was focused on fighting off a single terrorist squad. Not dozens. I found myself in the bomb shelter with Adi, Ofri, Omer, and Hezi. I sat with a ceramic bulletproof vest and a weapon in my hands, thinking that I was ready for anything. Whoever tries to get in, I’ll eliminate them. I was torn between going out to fight and staying and guarding my family. I have never been as scared as I was on this Saturday. Deep down, I didn’t think we had much of a chance.

Adi told me that we had lost contact with Amit. I tell her, “Let’s be strong; maybe more news will come.” But it’s already clear to me what’s happening, and I just push it down. People were messaging in the Whatsapp group about families with terrorists inside their homes and rumors about casualties. On the one hand, I really wanted to help, but I was unable to go out. After a while, I went out and up to the roof, thinking that from there, I could better protect the house. Golan and Tzofit were already hiding there, which gave me some confidence, even though Golan wasn’t armed.

Noam G with a helmet, vest and a weapon

10:00: Adi reports that Ella and Uri say that they smelled smoke in their bomb shelter minutes before their house was set on fire. Yael and Danny are abroad, so Ella and Uri are alone in the shelter. I’m gutted, and I have no answers. Their whole neighborhood is under attack, and there’s no way to get to them. Danny is texting me from Scotland, and I can’t do anything.

I started to see a large number of terrorists walking along the fence outside the kibbutz. I was thinking, “How do I begin to take them out without causing them to fire at my house?”

At one point, I decided to shoot accurate, isolated bullets. On the fourth bullet, I took out a terrorist. They realized they were being shot at and left the area.

“A short time later, Golan went down to take care of Karp’s children, who were left alone at home after their father and his partner were murdered in front of their eyes.”

Suddenly, shouts from downstairs. Bobo appears like Rambo in the Vietnam War, with a gun and bulletproof vest. I don’t remember what we said to each other, but I gave him two cartridges. He threw Golan a gun and cartridges and joined the others from the standby unit. A short time later, Golan went down to take care of Karp’s children, who were left alone at home after their father and his partner were murdered in front of their eyes.

I return to the shelter, and Adi has a panic attack; it’s hard for her to breathe, and there is no sign of Amit. She’s asking me to go try to get information. It’s impossible to go to him, and certainly not alone. All this time, I am going up and down from the roof. It’s already 12:00, and I see soldiers scanning the grove of the cemetery. I’m feeling confident that at least this side is clean. Yaniv called me to join him in scanning the area. We head towards the youth neighborhood and join a group of soldiers.

All I want is to get information on Amit, whatever it is; somehow, I’m still optimistic.

Yaniv took the lead and started to direct the forces; he took out a map and explained to them the layout of the neighborhoods. I thought to myself that there were two neighborhoods left to scan, and that was it. I didn’t know if any of the neighborhoods’ rooms were fortified, and it was impossible to get closer. We tried to flank behind Kobi Ben Zaken’s neighborhood, slowly moving toward the olive trees. We passed by a loaded RPG rig, loaded, leaning against the wall. The soldiers are in front of us, a hellfire. I see soldiers wounded and falling, other soldiers carrying the wounded back; some are dead. Soldiers rescue Inbar Dromi from the shelter’s window. It’s the window next to Amit’s. I tried to extract information, but they had nothing positive for me. Yet I was still optimistic, saying to myself miracles have happened. Maybe we will get a miracle, too, and I suppress the bad thoughts.

Yaniv and I take shelter behind Mor Schnapp’s house. All the time, they were shooting in our direction. We tried to return fire, but we didn’t really succeed. Then, a grenade was thrown towards us, and we were saved. I had been in contact with Ilan Cohen all this time, reporting that there are terrorists here in this neighborhood, and the army cannot overtake them. Ilan has no answers. He’s not even in the kibbutz, but still, he manages to control things in the best way possible despite the limitations.

A second grenade was thrown, and Yaniv and I are pushed into the foyer between the house and the shelter. Yaniv with his back to the grenade and me between him and the wall, both of us bent down. We didn’t have time to defend ourselves properly. A piece of shrapnel hits Yaniv under his protective vest, and he runs to the clinic.

I was left alone with Inbar and two soldiers. The gunfire didn’t stop for a single moment.

Inbar asks, “Do you have a weapon for me?” There was a rifle thrown on the floor. Inbar takes it, and I give him a cartridge. He is barefoot with no protective gear but ready to fight.

I asked the soldier, “Where is the rest of your battalion?” He motions to me with his arms and shoulders upwards. I’m at a loss.

After a short time, I realized they were shooting at us from the entrance of a house in front of Amit’s. I came to turn a corner by first poking the barrel of my rifle out. Luckily, I hadn’t yet followed it with my head before a bullet hit my front sight. So now I have a gun without a sight. I don’t yet comprehend the magnitude of what just happened. I take a few minutes to collect myself. I disassemble the sight and wonder how we continue from here?

The soldiers asked me to guard from the south so that the terrorists would not flee toward the synagogue. I stand in position on the lookout through the bushes. I could barely see what’s going on.

I spotted the terrorists going back and forth between the houses. One came out with an RPG and shot it. It’s not clear where, though, somewhere between Amit and Yigal’s room. Another terrorist came back out with a blue hat with a visor like pilots in the Air Force have. He had a strange gait. I can’t find a good enough point to fire from, and I didn’t have accurate aim without the rifle’s sight.

I was terribly thirsty, and I had no water. I went to the synagogue to drink. After a few long minutes, I felt that the event I just went through was messing with my head. I couldn’t concentrate, and I couldn’t continue. I turned to Inbar and asked if he was staying with the soldiers and the standby unit or if he wanted me to take him somewhere. I walked him to his mother’s, and we said goodbye.

I continued home, making sure to walk in the gardens through the bushes so as not to be exposed on the sidewalks. I was scared to death that a terrorist would jump out of nowhere. My head was constantly alert. I entered the shelter feeling completely exhausted. Adi is spent. She wanted information on Amit. There isn’t any, I tell her.

Noam G with his son Amit

In the afternoon, there is an eerie silence, and we hear the occasional shooting. Towards the evening, we got word that we could leave the shelters but not our houses. The kibbutz was still not cleared of terrorists. The last time we ate was during Shabbat dinner with the Toledano family, Ariel, and the children, Ella, Uri, and Memi (my mother). We were a large group, and the table was full of delicious food. This was the last time we saw and laughed with Amit. I remember that Amit asked me to sit next to him. And for me to keep Omer away. He loved Omer madly, but he needed some space.

It was already Saturday evening, the tension from the fighting had subsided, and there was silence, only the sounds of gunfire explosions from a distance. The soldiers did an initial scan of the kibbutz. I understand that there is one terrorist location left in the youth neighborhood. I managed to fall asleep. Adi had my phone. Suddenly, between one and two o’clock, we receive reports that they are trying to enter Yaniv and Snonit’s house.

Adi woke me up. I immediately put on my vest and took my weapon. My heart rate is 400.

I understand that the terrorists are at Tovia’s. I reported to Golan so he would know there was an event very close to us. Bobo, also listening to the radio, took soldiers with him, and they stopped the attack.

"Every minute lasted forever; the hours passed, the morning came, and we had no information about Amit.”

At around 21:00, Yaniv calls and speaks through sobs. I’m sure he’s giving me the bad news. But it wasn’t the news I expected; with bitter tears, barely able to speak, he told me that Sharon Shahar, our childhood friend since birth, was murdered in Nir Yitzhak.

At the same time, Adi sees through the window Bobo and Noam Mark approaching the door. She already understood. This moment was about to change our lives forever.

Noam G.

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