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We realized they want to burn us alive

  • Gili Y.'s story

I saw my father propel through the air, his hands were blown up, blood gushing

I'm Gili Y., soon to be 23 years old, from Kibbutz Kfar Aza. On Friday, I was having dinner in our Sukkah with the family of my brother's partner.

Her whole family was with us, really, including her grandmother and uncles, all of them.

We had about 30 people in the Sukkah that evening, it was a very joyful evening having everyone together. On that same evening, I also had a conversation with my friends who I had plans to attend the Nova party with. They asked if I was going to join them, offering to pick me up. I was really debating whether to go to this party, but a strange gut feeling compelled me to stay at home.



Gili Y.

Gili Y. (credit: Ben Cohen from "Edut Rishona")


That evening I also met with my friends from the kibbutz at a friend’s house. We stayed up late. After that I came home and went to bed. I was woken up by the first Red Alert [siren].

I ran to the safe room with my parents who were also at home. We ran to the safe room, all three of us. I immediately had a feeling that there was more to the situation than what we were witnessing.


Never in my life have I experienced this amount of sirens. Neither have I had such a bad gut feeling to the extent that I left the safe room to turn on the TV. Our house’s safe room is an extension of my parents' room. So I went to my parents' room to turn on the TV to see if there was anything on the news. I didn't see anything unusual [being reported].

I even wrote to a friend who was at the party telling her that something strange was happening, so that they knew that something was going on. In between the sirens I went to get my phone and charger from my room. And then again another siren echoed prompting us to get back inside the safe room.


“Suddenly at 07:30 am we started to hear fifty, sixty terrorists outside the house shouting in Arabic, talking loudly.


Then we started hearing really strange noises from outside, the sound of gunshots. Although I kind of figured out what I was hearing and what was going on, I asked my dad about the noise. He confirmed that it was indeed gunshots, so we tried to listen in to the noises beyond the walls. We were really quiet and alert. It was really early in the morning, I was up from 6:40 because of the sirens.

Suddenly at 07:30 am we started to hear fifty, sixty terrorists outside the house shouting in Arabic, talking loudly. We figured out on our own that these were terrorists. I immediately asked my father, 'Maybe we can run away? Or should we go get knives'. I also admitted to him that I hadn’t locked the house the night before.

Following our conversation, my father promptly went out to lock the door and came back inside. Luckily at that point nobody had entered the house yet.


He returned to the safe room and then we heard them approaching the house. It happens that we have a big garden behind the safe room, so we could hear that they were getting closer. As we realized they were entering the house, I held my dog's mouth shut so he wouldn't bark and expose us. I bid my parents farewell, saying that at least we would die together. I made sure to tell them how much I loved them.


They [the terrorists] entered and started shooting at everything in the house, they literally went through the entire house shooting... They started from the living room, from the main entrance, with the sounds of grenades and bombs. They just shot at everything that was possible to shoot at. Then they advanced to the safe room where my father was clutching the door handle, blocking the entry. We had nothing protecting us, only my father who was clutching the door handle tightly. Meanwhile, they shouted at us 'Jews, Jews' in Arabic and 'Allah Akbar' and all kinds of other things.


“My dad got shot in the hand at this point. Everything was dark”


They started shooting at the safe room, bullets penetrating inside. There was the door leading into the safe room, then opposite to it there was a window. We had a piano right under that window. My mother and I found ourselves pressed against the wall adjacent to the door, while my father was holding the handle.


There were [bullets] buzzing in front of my face, ringing in my ears and gunpowder all around. Meanwhile, we were just clinging to each other. My dad got shot in the hand at this point. Everything was dark. I just wanted to understand whether or not I was alive...

I had many thoughts going through my head, that I was the target and they were shooting at me. There was only a door separating me from them. Then there was a second of silence. My father heard that an explosive device was being attached to the door. He was also clinging to us while he was holding the door. He took the handle with both hands and used his whole body to resist the push.


And then there was the explosion: I saw my father propel through the air, his hands were blown up, blood gushing. He slid on the floor, he was burned a bit on the chest, he received a strong blow to the head, and he collapsed on the floor. Our first miracle was that the door slammed shut. This was because they loaded the device while he was holding the handle tight, which jammed the door. But then there was this hole in the door. Amidst the chaos, that moment I grasped that I was OK. It was like in the movies: there was a loud beeping in my ears, and I was covered in gunpowder and my father’s blood, which was splattered everywhere. I understood that from then on we were fighting for our lives and I was determined to save my father’s life. I quickly asked him what to do. We heard that the terrorists shot a little more inside [the house], but then they left. I did not think about it much more, I remember just focusing on rescuing my dad.


“I asked him what to do and he told me to apply a tourniquet [...] So I swiftly took my phone charger and used it to tie one of his hands”


They moved along. I don't know why, and even at that moment I wasn't too concerned with it, I was only worried about my father who had blood coming out of him in large quantities.. It was horrible.. I asked him what to do and he told me to apply a tourniquet. When I had gone to grab my phone, before the power went out, I had also brought the charger and plugged it into the wall. So I swiftly took my phone charger and used it to tie one of his hands. I looked for more cables in the safe room and managed to find another one.

We had this very old phone. I broke and disconnected the cables and tied his other hand.


At that point I sent everyone messages that my father was critically wounded, and that there were terrorists in Kfar Aza -  thinking I was the one to break the news...

We entered the safe room because of the rocket sirens, we were not told anything else.

I had only entered the safe room because of the rockets, oblivious to the unfolding events.

I wrote messages to my family, to my brother, who was also in the kibbutz in the youth's apartment. I wrote to him that my father was seriously injured and that we needed an ambulance urgently, urgently, urgently. In our conversations I told him that I love him and that there were thirty terrorists at the house, and that I can still hear them from outside.

I wrote 'Dad is injured, just send troops here because I have to take care of him' - on my phone, my mother's phone, my father's phone. I just sent messages to everyone, endlessly.


“For two hours we tried to keep him conscious. I brought him water, talked to him, cried, assuring him that he saved our lives"


For two hours we tried to keep him conscious. I brought him water, talked to him, cried, assuring him that he saved our lives and that I was fine, and that he was going to stay with us - alive. After two hours I heard strange noises from outside. I opened the window and (it felt like it was after five minutes, they told me it was after two hours) I saw Golani's soldiers.


They were just outside the window of the safe room . They were passing by, I only saw them by chance. They were following the terrorists. I shouted at them, I screamed at them outside the window, because the door was slammed, so only through the window was the way,

I talked to all of them. I cried, begging them to come, saying my father was critically wounded, and that I need urgent, urgent help.


They approached and I remember - or I imagined - that they started speaking Arabic. Maybe they were, or maybe I just imagined it. And then I had this fear that maybe it wasn't soldiers, and I also remember that I took my mother aside, like “just a second!”.

Then suddenly I heard that they were calling each other by nicknames, last names, and I said okay, they must be soldiers. They came closer to the window, brought me a tourniquet, and I begged them to stay and take me away. They said they were engaged in a mission and had to really press ahead with their task.


And then, I also spotted this really important military figure from Kfar Aza, in an unusual sight, starting to explain to them what to do. He was assisting the soldiers, striving to make sense of the unfolding situation. I shouted for him to come to the window. He was shocked. I thought he was shocked because I told him there were terrorists in Kfar Aza and that my father was wounded. But afterwards, when I spoke with him on the phone, he said he was actually shocked because I was screaming outside the window while 200 terrorists were roaming around Kfar Aza, a lot of them right across from me. I said I was just screaming for someone to come help me save my father. He brought me a tourniquet and carried on [helping] the soldiers.


“He had a paramedic vest and was wearing a kippah. I also shouted for him to come to the window. He came in, and he skillfully applied a tourniquet to my father"


After two minutes I saw the first angel - someone from the Sa’ad Rapid Response Squad.

He had a paramedic vest and was wearing a kippah. I also shouted for him to come to the window. He came in, and he skillfully applied a tourniquet to my father.  He had a weapon which gave me a sense of security. I had some reassurance that I could look after my father and my mother. He was armed, and he could also apply the tourniquet properly to my father. After him, two more members of Sa’ad's Rapid Response Squad entered: one of them was wounded, a bullet penetrated his cheeks, 6mm close to the main artery.

There was another one with an M16, also from Saad's Rapid Response Squad. They were wearing civilian [regular, not uniform] clothes. They came to Kfar Aza as they thought there were just people wounded there, from rockets not from terrorists, and they were now looking for a hiding place.


When they heard my screams, they rushed inside. At that moment, it was just us and the three of them when they finally disclosed to us what was happening in the kibbutz.

They had weapons, which provided me a sense of security, and we all acted so [unconcerned around each other]. I found myself peeing with them nearby, still in my pajamas, full of blood, it was such a weird situation. He was bleeding, my father was also wounded, it was a surreal situation. In the meantime I kept sending messages to everyone that my father was wounded, and that I needed soldiers and an ambulance as soon as possible. I was constantly on the phone with people, with the emergency service. They told me there was an ambulance on the way. At some point they called me and I asked them: "It's been two hours, where are you?” They then informed me that it was not possible to enter Kfar Aza.


I naively opened the gate, seemingly oblivious to the reasons why it was not possible to enter Kfar Aza. I was told no one could reach us. Armed forces were on their way to us, but they couldn’t make it because they were getting killed on the way.


From the second the terrorists first came to my house, my body was on high alert. My mind went blank. Later, as I revisited the correspondence with my brother, I read messages in which I wrote to him that there were noises outside, and that I heard terrorists, but it’s like I cannot even remember that. I was so focused on my father, who was in a very critical condition. I had already arranged for my brothers to talk to him on the phone, ensuring that no matter what happened, they wouldn't find themselves at his funeral without having had the chance to say their goodbyes. Every imaginable scenario raced through my mind during those tense moments.


At a certain point I became aware that there were armed forces en route to our location.

We heard a tank rumbling and I prompted my mother, 'Go out to them!'

The guys from Sa’ad told us, of course, not to go, that there are terrorists outside. But we said “No, no, we are going out.” 


“When I went inside, I saw that the house was destroyed. I entered my bedroom to put some clothes on. I saw my whole closet, full of holes. I started shaking and almost passed out”.


My mother went out, she saw the tank, saw bodies nearby, came inside, then went back to the safe room . She walked right along the paths, which was very frightening. At some point I also went out of the window of the safe room, and got inside the house through my parents' balcony. I said that if they kidnap me, then at least I would not be in pajamas, full of blood. At minimum I'll change my clothes. One paramedic told me to bring sugar, to make him [my father] like a liquid infusion, and to bring straws, because we hadn’t managed to make him drink water properly.


When I went inside, I saw that the house was destroyed. I entered my bedroom to put some clothes on. I saw my whole closet, full of holes. I started shaking and almost passed out. And I remember talking to myself saying, 'Gili, put a shirt on, pants and go back to the safe room ’'. I was mostly talking to myself, trying to stay focused all the time, not to run away or pass out, and to stay as strong as possible.

So we went back inside. Luckily nobody was inside the house, or they didn’t catch anyone. I had no idea what they did in Kfar Aza, like, I wasn't scared at all.


I went back to the safe room, I kept talking to my father, we made sure he had ventilation, we brought him water. When he wanted to, we opened the window - they were keeping the window closed. We also brought the key to the car, so that we could drive him.

Then they told us, “You can't leave! There are three hundred terrorists here, there are bodies everywhere, you can't!” But we didn't understand. We could not comprehend: where was the army? How come no one was coming? How come the ambulance could not get to my house? It had been hours already.


We were constantly told that there were armed forces on their way to us, but that they were unable to reach us. I asked my father: “let me know once you cannot hold on any longer, so that I can say goodbye to you”. I kept telling my mother, “Stay with him! Stay with him! Take care of him in his last moments, I'm on the phone”. I still had reception, I kept sending everyone messages, locations, talking to doctors. I added: 'You must be with him in his last moments. Only if he feels he can no longer endure, then I'll say goodbye to him”.


I was not aware of what was happening in the other kibbutzim either, where all the soldiers were. [What was happening] in Nahal Oz, I didn't know anything. About the Gaza Division..

I just couldn’t understand where the army was. We kept asking: “where is the army?”

My father was going to die next to me. We had 30 terrorists in the house at a point. How come no one was coming? Where were all the armed forces? How come the ambulance couldn’t get to my house? It broke me.