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Another group of terrorists arrived - with a pickup truck to take us back in

  • Katy L.'s story

I asked the kids to cover their ears. If we stay alive, they don't need to remember what they hear

For my own healing process I decided to write my story about the massacre that took place in October 2023, Re'im Kibbutz.

The last weekend was supposed to be a fun one. A weekend that sums up two weeks of the kid's Sukkot holiday break, and prepares us and them to go back to school. Back to a blissed routine.

On Thursday we flew kites with the help of some friends.

Who could believe that three days later the same skies will be filled with terrorists landing to annihilate, destroy and sabotage.

The next day, Friday October 6th, after two years of persuasion on my kids and Shai’s behalf, we went to look for a cute dog to adopt. It turned out another family had already adopted the dog we wanted. We had to reassure the kids on the way back from Tel-Aviv that we will have a dog someday, for sure.

On the way home, with the car, we drove by the Re'im parking lot and saw the huge production from the road. We also saw the policemen, the security people and thousands of cars that were there. I was joking out loud saying ‘how come we weren’t invited to the party?’ (thank good we weren't).

On Friday evening we celebrated at Kibbutz. It has been 77 years since the Kibbutz was founded. 77 years of Zionism, values and love of the soil and men. That was a happy and uniting gathering. The Kibbutz was filled with people, families and friends who came to celebrate with us.

A little boy is flying a kite

Katy L. flies kites

The following day, at 6:30 AM, the “red alert” siren on my phone app woke me up. I saw that there were missiles being launched all over the place. Rishon Le-Zion, Kiryat Gat, Yad Mordechai, the phone screen was filling up with names of targeted cities in a matter of seconds. I was sure there'd been a mistake. I grabbed the remote (quietly agitated how my husband always puts it on his side of the bed), didn’t even have the chance to press it, and it hit us. This was not an app malfunction.

I ran to Noam’s room to wake him, Shai grabbed Ido from his bed and we went into the safe room, where Harel and his friend Yair were sleeping. (Ee were thinking it was) a matter of seconds, we are used to it. A few minutes and we will return to our beds, for sure

But this time it was different. Back-to-back red alert sirens, constant explosion sounds, constant missile interception sounds. At that point we understood this was not the usual missile attack. Something was different, the number, the density, the power. It was unusual. A lethal blow.

“At that point we understood they were here. They were in the Kibbutz. And for that we don’t have an Iron Dome.”

Because we were in such a hurry to go inside the safe room, I forgot my cell phone. The children's cell phones were charging on my computer desk right outside of the room. Only Shai brought his phone inside. I was asking him what was going on and he didn’t answer me. His eyes haven’t left the screen for a second. Not too long after that and we started hearing shots being fired. Still in disbelief of what i was hearing, I asked Shai silently with gestures if it is what I think it is, and he nodded his head in agreement.

Meanwhile on a WhatsApp group, Hadas, our friend, Who is also Yair's mother, wrote that she can hear men shouting in Arabic outside her window. At that point we understood they were here. They were in the Kibbutz. And for that we don’t have an Iron Dome.

I shoved the kids under the bed and asked them to be quiet, to not speak or move. They did as I said. We closed the safe room’s door and Shai was holding the handle tightly so that they wouldn't be able to open it from the outside. We stayed there silently. The power went off, it was dark. I kept my ear on the door. Birds were chirping. I used to like waking up to the sound of these chirps.

“We got a text from a woman who just had her firstborn child a week earlier, saying they burnt her house"

About 30 minutes after the alerts started our friends started reporting those monsters have invaded their homes:

"They are shooting at our door!"

"They are shooting at the window!"

"They are throwing grenades at us!"

"They are trying to bomb our safe room’s door!"

"They are trying to open the safe room’s door, we are struggling to keep it closed!"

We got a text from a woman who just had her firstborn child a week earlier, saying that they burnt her house down and that they were suffocating in the safe room.

People were sending voice messages and we could hear them suffocating.

One house after the other. No exclusions..

And then, two and a half hours after the events began, we heard glass being shattered inside our house. The kids were hiding under the bed and I asked them to cover their ears. If we stay alive they don’t need to remember what they heard. The monsters were inside my home, arguing in Arabic, going room after room, looking for us. The steps were getting closer, they were behind the door and no one came to our rescue. They were then trying to open the door. Shai's hands were holding the handle as strong as possible. They will not come inside. We could then hear them going crazy inside our home, knocked off closets, lifted beds, shattered TVs. I prayed they will release all their wrath on the house, as long as we will stay alive.

At that point I disassociated. Couldn’t hear, couldn’t see, couldn’t understand. Just rocked myself backwards and forwards. Waited for it to be over. Not knowing how it will end. As long as it ends.

Shai gotme back to reality saying it was over. They were gone. The house was quiet.

After a while I allowed the boys to leave their hiding place. Still inside the safe room. Who knew for how long. They fell asleep in a matter of seconds for about two hours. Then they woke up hungry. Yair, the boy that was never hungry, said that he will settle for stale bread, whatever we had. But we had no food in the room. Harel asked if this was like the holocaust and Yair was calming him that the holocaust was years long, that this thing we were experiencing was only a few hours long and there was no comparison between the two.

I asked them to distract themselves by thinking about other things. Positive things. I promised them that when we'll get out we'll have a party and make pizza. That made them happy and they agreed to wait. We started playing games, reading books and thinking about all the delicious things we were going to eat when we got out.

Yair then asked me if his parents were worried about him and I assured him that his parents knew we were all alright.

In retrospect, they couldn't reach us from the moment the terrorist entered our home because they took the internet router and the children's cell phones, which now appear to be in Khan Yunis (a city in the Gaza strip). Yair's father was probably sure we were abducted.

Now we had to wait for someone to come and get us out.

No one came for hours upon hours. The children asked if there was still a chance that the IDF would arrive. The time went by and it didn’t seem reasonable.

"I asked them to prepare us for what we were about to see. They told us that our house was ruined."

Around 2 PM we got a report that the army was about to arrive, and it calmed us down a bit. After about two more hours we finally heard Hebrew: "there is an open door and a broken window". They came inside and asked if there was anyone inside, I yelled that there was. We were asked to open the door. Shai asked a few questions to ensure their identity, and only then he opened the door.

I understood that we survived.

I asked them to look around the house and make sure there were no terrorists there. They were nice enough to do as I asked. They came back and promised that the house was clear. I asked them to prepare us for what we were about to see. They told us that our house was ruined.

They hugged us and supported us, even though they were kids themselves. They asked us not to look to the right and to the left while passing the Kibbutz paths because there were dead bodies there.

The neighborhood's parking lot was in ruins, all the cars were broken and the tires were slashed, some of them burnt, some were stolen. Our scenic green Kibbutz was turned into a battlefield, with the smell of fire, broken glass and blood stains.

We went to the Kibbutz club house. Slowly more and more families came inside. We heard about who we have lost, and realized that some of our beloved Kibbutz members were kidnapped. Our hearts were shattered.

We are very far away from home now, and much safer. But we are still inside the safe room in so many ways.

No one knows where we are going back to, how we will continue on as a country, how the Kibbutz will look like, but we will win.

There is no other option.

We didn’t go through that for nothing.

This post is written in the honor of Doron Meir and his daughter Mor Meir and of Roy Popplewell.

The Meir family were our neighbors at our previous home, just the house in front of ours. When we came to Re'im, Doron was the first to come and greet us. He offered bicycles for our children and babysitting services from his amazing daughters.

The charming Roy lived just a couple of houses from our current home. He is the one that fixed Ido's kite and showed him the best location to fly it.

This post is also dedicated as a prayer for the safely return of all the missing people.

Katy L.

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