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

  • Naomi H.'s story

The blinds were shut, the doors locked. Silence. Don’t talk. Don’t breathe. They’re here

06:30 Saturday morning. Kfar Aza.


Heavy bombardments in the area. Kob and I jump out of bed and race to the kitchen window, surprised by the unusual number of rocket launches. We hear a strange sound coming from nearby. Snipers? We’re not sure. Kob starts the coffee. “Here we go, another round.” That’s what we thought was happening. Little did we know. We looked out the window. A white pickup stops at the entrance to the neighborhood. Ten terrorists (maybe more), dressed in black, black masks and weapons, were jumping out.

They split up. Five were crossing the lawn towards our house. Five were running towards our beloved neighbor’s house. I still didn’t get it, so I asked Kob: “What is this?” Kob doesn’t understand what he’s looking at either.


“The terrorists were right next to the house. I saw the white headbands on their heads. Hamas. Shouting. “Itbah Al Yahud.” [Arabic for, “slay the Jews”] “Allahu Akbar.” We ran to the safe room.”


07:02: I was texting my Whatsapp group ‘Women of Kfar Aza’, “There are armed men, dressed in black, in the neighborhood, running around and shooting.” Someone writes, “they’re our soldiers.” Another woman replies, “Get inside the safe rooms.” The terrorists were right next to the house. I saw the white headbands on their heads. Hamas. Shouting. “Itbah Al Yahud.” [Arabic for, “slay the Jews”] “Allahu Akbar.” We ran to the safe room.


“The life we knew is now over.”


Someone texted, “Terrorist infiltration.” Someone answered, “Don’t scare us like that.”

Those were our last two minutes living in an illusion, when we still knew nothing, sweet, inconceivable innocence. The life we knew is now over. In no time, the kibbutz Whatsapp group filled with cries for help from every area of the kibbutz: “They are shooting at the house!” “They are here!” “They are in my house, help, please!” “Heavy shooting at my house.” “Mine too.” “They are breaking into the house!!! Please help!!!”


08:58: A report of a wounded man near the kibbutz assembly hall. He needs urgent evacuation. I texted some emergency squad members “Man down near the assembly hall, needs a tourniquet now.” [Whatsapps continue] “They are trying to open the safe room, help!” “Hold the handle tight.” “Get to my parents, now!” “Has anyone seen Gila Peled? Her family from the moshav is worried.” She was killed in cold blood. Tamar K., Aviv’s mother, texts: “No contact with Aviv K. and family, need help to check on them.” The whole family was killed in cold blood. Someone explained how to make and administer a tourniquet. Someone begged: “Please go check on my parents.”


For long, long hours, all of my Whatsapp groups were flooded with calls for help, pleas, locations, directions. In one apartment were Ofir, Israel, and Itay, my grandson. In another, in the Young Generation neighborhood of the kibbutz, my Inbar and his partner Adi. Oriani was under the bed in our safe room. Bursts of gunfire in the neighborhood. Endless blasts, near, far, everywhere. I heard someone wounded screaming nearby. And then silence.


“Inbar texted 'Need rescue now. They are at our house. Please.' And that is it. Last contact with Inbar. Last contact with the Young Generation neighborhood.”


10:18: Inbar texted “Need rescue now. They are at our house. Please.” And that is it. Last contact with Inbar. Last contact with the Young Generation neighborhood. I texted Emily, Inbar’s classmate and next door neighbor. Nothing.


Itay screamed, Ofir was begging for rescue, and I was helpless. Kob was patrolling the house. A terrorist with a MAG was walking up the path towards the house. The blinds were shut, the doors locked.

Silence.

Don’t talk.

Don’t breathe.

They’re here.

Fire at the house. Bursts of gunfire from every direction. The windows shattered. Inbar was not answering.


The Duvdevan Unit arrived at the kibbutz. I thought: Okay, that’s it, it’s over. It wasn’t. This holocaust, this massacre, this heavy tragedy I’m still not even beginning to comprehend, was not over. More elite units entered the kibbutz. Maglan, Duvdevan, Paratroopers, Commando, Giv’ati. There were more reports of wounded people. More people begging for immediate rescue. More and more and more.


Time went by. And all I could think was: “my Inbar and Adi are gone. Please don’t let them go into Ofir and Israel’s house. Please, if only Itay would stop crying. Please, if we just hang in there. Please don’t let them murder me. Who will care for the survivors if I’m gone? Don’t let them murder Kobi. Who would be my anchor? Don’t let them murder Orian, because I will die of sorrow. Don’t let the night come. Just make this end. Our army is strong.”


“Kobi, my hero, was trying to dismantle the safe room door handle from outside, to lock us in. It didn’t work. I saw our lives run out.”


19:08: They were here again. The house was surrounded. Heavy fire at the house. Shouting in Arabic. Orian is under the bed. I am terrified. Kobi, my hero, was trying to dismantle the safe room door handle from outside, to lock us in. It didn’t work. I saw our lives run out.


23:00: Thank God, Israel, Ofir and Itay were rescued. I hold on to hope.



“We tried to listen through the safe room door. We couldn’t tell: “Are they soldiers? Or terrorists trying to get inside?””

00:30: Terrorists were on the roof. I texted the Whatsapp groups: “Movement on our roof. Urgent, they’re trying to break in. They’re on the roof. Trying to get inside.” There were bangs on the walls from every direction, there was banging on the roof. A few minutes later a Giv’ati squad gets to us. Fire exchanges, banging on our door. Kobi said: “Is it the army?” We tried to listen through the safe room door. We couldn’t tell: “Are they soldiers? Or terrorists trying to get inside?”


They broke a window and glass shattered. They were at the safe room door, saying: “IDF, IDF!” Kobi whispered: “I’m going to open the door.” “Don’t!” I said. “They’re terrorists, don’t open.” Kob makes the decision. He opens the door that has been shut for 18 hours. We saw soldiers. It was hard to believe our own eyes. Two minutes to gather important belongings. We got into the Hummer. They were covering us from all directions. We went through the gate and got to the Alonit (grocery store). More of our people were there.


I couldn’t breathe. I burst into tears. Someone held me. A soldier gave us water to drink. My legs were not holding me up. I sat down on the sidewalk. This horrific nightmare was not over, it was only the beginning. More and more terrible news of beloved friends murdered in cold blood, missing. We prayed for miracles. “How can we rise from this dreadful devastation? How do we go on from here? Where is my Inbar? Where is Adi? What if they’re hurt and no one can reach them? What if they were kidnapped?” I texted my Inbar that I love him and to hold on. No blue check mark. No check mark.


Sunday, 12:30 PM: Unknown caller. It’s Adi: “Naomi, we were rescued, we’re okay.” I collapsed. They went through 30 hours of suffering and I have yet to write their incredible story of this inconceivable miracle. Thank you everyone for your help and support, I’m sorry I don’t call and don’t really answer. I’m still trying to breathe again.


Naomi H.





WhatsApp group screenshot from October 7th


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