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Her car door was opening and there was blood on the floor, and you just saw her knee that was shot

  • Shaili A.'s story

I was scared to death. I knew I was going to die

On Friday [October 6th] we had a regular family dinner. My brother had flown to Mexico to surf. My older sister had just moved to the north, but that weekend she was visiting the Kibbutz, along with my little sister, and my mother. The atmosphere at home was a little tense - my father was worried about my brother surfing alone, and there was, like, tension in the air. Every Friday, people would come to my apartment, to the Young Generation apartment blocks, to sit, play. The whole gang, to drink, have fun, usually until 06:00 a.m. at my place. This time we were there until 03:00 am, which saved us. I have a friend in the army, and she always falls asleep on my couch - but she hadn’t. I remember going home, and Elai [my partner] was supposed to return to Israel on Saturday. I packed a bag to go to his house. Everything was prepared, and I went to sleep.



Credit: Micha Livne, Edut 710


I’ve always been anxious about the [security] situation. Ever since my dad became the Kibbutz military security coordinator, I’d had anxiety about every Red Alert siren and all that stuff. And then there was a Red Alert siren, and immediately, instinctively, you get up, run to the safe room, crazy stress. I was shaking. Usually my father, who is in the know about security matters, would tell me the night before, “you should sleep in the safe room tonight, something might go down.” And I said to him, “Why didn’t you tell me to sleep in the safe room?” and he said, “Shaili, I didn’t know”. I remember I was angry at him. I was there in the safe room, and a good friend called me, also from Kfar Aza, right by the border, and said, “Shaili, I see someone on a drone, on a parachute, coming towards Kfar Aza”. I said, “What have you been smoking? What the hell are you talking about?” and he said, “I think it’s terrorists, tell your dad.”


“I was in the safe room, and I didn’t think. I said to myself, ‘Fine, he’s going, he’ll be back’.”

I didn’t dwell on it and immediately told my dad. Later, we found his toothbrush still with the toothpaste on it in his sink; he didn’t even have time to brush his teeth. He left it there, put on his protective vest and helmet, said “thanks for telling me” and told the rapid response team, “this is not a drill, I repeat, this is not a drill, terrorists are in the Kibbutz.” Still, he thought it was about 5 terrorists. He didn’t grasp the magnitude. And at the same time he called the army ,saying, “Why are you… what about the surveillance, did nobody see? Nobody knew?” and my little sister understood the situation and managed to say goodbye to him. I didn’t, I was in the safe room, and I didn’t think. I said to myself, “Fine, he’s going, he’ll be back.”


“Another friend texted me, 'There are terrorists in our house, call your dad now'. Everyone contacted me, because my dad wasn’t answering, and he was the security coordinator.”

I was in the safe room, and talking to a friend of mine who lives with me in the Young Generation apartment blocks. She was very scared of the situation, and she said, “can you come be with me? I’m really scared”. She lived alone. And I said, “I’m on my way”. I was on my way out the door when my mom said, “No way are you going out, there are terrorists out there.” I said, “Mom, I can’t leave her alone, you know how scared she gets.” I slept at home, ‘cause I was scared to sleep alone at the Young Generation apartment blocks. That friend, her mother is a senior official. I won’t say the name, where, but she also always tells her [in advance], “Get out of here, something’s going to happen.” I realised that if her mother didn’t know, something bad happened. I was on the phone with her, trying to calm her down, because I couldn’t get to her, and at the same time another friend texted me, “There are terrorists in our house, call your dad now”. Everyone contacted me, because my dad wasn’t answering, and he was the security coordinator.


The time was 06:40 am. I told the friend whom I was on the phone with, the one on the phone with me was called Ofir [Ofir Shoshani, RIP] and the one texting me was Yam [Yam Goldstein Almog, RIP]. I explained the situation, and the one on the phone realized there were terrorists loose in the Kibbutz and got even more freaked out, and I was trying to keep them both on the line. I told her, “My dad is coming as fast as he can, he went to the armoury to get riffles and he’s coming, it’ll be okay, he’ll protect you.” And she said, “No, you don’t understand, they’re already in the house, and fighting down the door.” At 06:40. I was still trying to calm her down, even though there were no comforting words to say, and she said, “I hear gunfire exchange”. So I said, “Okay, that means someone’s fighting them, they wouldn’t shoot themselves”. But there were no Kibbutz forces, no forces at all, and I started to understand the scope of the situation, and people kept calling me, and I had no answers, and my dad wasn’t responding.


“Then we started hearing footsteps in the house, and I heard them going up the ladder to the roof. Terrorists, yelling in Arabic”

And then we started hearing footsteps in the house, and I heard them going up the ladder to the roof. Terrorists, yelling in Arabic, because our roof has a good vantage point to the Young Generation apartment blocks. Another friend from the Kibbutz called me and said, “Shaili, they’re here, they’re shooting at us.” I didn’t know what to say to him at that point, I just didn’t know what to say. I was in the midst of a huge panic attack, my entire body unresponsive, and I had no answers to give anybody. At the same time, another friend from the border patrol wanted to join the rapid response team. I said, “I don’t know, I don’t have an answer. My dad isn’t answering, do what you think is best”. I didn’t know what to say. He joined them, and it was too late. It’s not nice to admit, but from the stress, you can’t hold it in, and you can’t leave, and I soiled myself. I lost it at that point, I couldn’t be on the phone anymore. I saw the phone calls, endless calls, and I couldn’t do it. I got under the bed in the safe room, and it’s true what they say, “scared to death”. I was scared to death. I knew I was going to die, that I wasn’t going to make it out alive. But still, I didn’t know the magnitude of the event. 


“ I was scared to death. I knew I was going to die, that I wasn’t going to make it out alive. But still, I didn’t know the magnitude of the event“

My mother was with me in the safe room. Me, my mom and my little sister. Come 11:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and the communications fell. No electricity, no light, no air conditioning, nothing. No food, water, nothing. No contact to the outside world, but that was actually comforting. I didn’t want to know what was going on outside. Insane gunfire, just insane, and it sounded right outside our house. Screams in Arabic that I’d never heard before. They said in Arabic, if I’m pronouncing it right, “Iftach al bab”, as in, “open the door”. My older sister was in her own apartment in the Kibbutz, and didn’t lock anything, she didn’t have time to. Everything was open - doors, windows, it was all wide open. They sat on her windowsill, and she hid under her bed, and she just didn’t breathe, they would have heard even her breaths. I think they understood, “who’s the idiot who left everything open?” and they thought maybe nobody was in. At some point my sister heard silence, then heard soldiers, and she said, “You’re taking me home now”. 


We heard from the house, we didn’t check from the safe room, and a Druze [soldier] was with them, so we thought it was Arabs. They used gunfire to burst the door before the safe room, and then wrestled with us over the door handle. I took a rock that was in the safe room, and my mom and sister fought over the door, because they’re stronger than I am, and I was like, at the ready. And we were fighting, and fighting, and they kept saying, “It’s Shaldag” [an IDF combat unit], but we didn’t believe them, because there was supposed to be a code word if it was soldiers. So we said, “Give us a personal number [a soldier’s ID], give us something, we don’t believe you” and they said nothing. At the end, I told my mother and my sister, “We can’t beat them, let’s surrender.” We said goodbye to each other, and opened the door, and it really was Shaldag. They had brought my sister to us, and they thought there was a terrorists inside with us, so they didn’t bring her in, they left her outside, covering her. They told us, “Listen, we were sure there was a man with you in the safe room, you’re strong, you gave us a hell of a fight”. I told the soldiers - I kept my cool then, I was very optimistic. I felt like my dad was watching over me - I told the soldiers to stay in the house for a minute and cover for me, and went to get water, food, knives, anything I could get my hands on. At that time I saw all the horrors transpiring outside. I looked out the window, and the entire house was up in smoke, and countless bodies, soldiers around the house. I went back to the safe room, and it was already nighttime. They said, Shaldag, that they would come back to evacuate us. They didn’t.


“Night fell, and everyone fell asleep, I have no idea how. I was all, “okay, if a terrorist comes, what do I do?” I thought, maybe I’ll try to seduce them, and then steal their weapons. Sick thoughts ran through my head”

Night fell, and everyone fell asleep, I have no idea how. I was all, “okay, if a terrorist comes, what do I do?” I thought, maybe I’ll try to seduce them, and then steal their weapons. Sick thoughts ran through my head. And then I started hearing footsteps in the house, and woke up my little sister. I think that at a certain point I imagined the footsteps, I don’t know if they were real or not. And I kept passing by the window, trying to listen, passing by the door, trying to listen. And then I heard an IDF tank, and it calmed me down. I thought, okay, the forces are here. At one point I felt like I was choking, there was just no air, so I opened the window of the safe room just a little - mistake - and took a breath. And then there was a huge boom that threw my arm back, and I thought, “I’m not opening that window again, I’d rather suffocate to death”. It was such a big boom, and so close. During those hours we didn’t know how to pass the time, so my little sister and I created vlogs. What’s the time now, what’s happening to us - it was good, impressive content. I tried to make light of the situation, and I said to her, “Why do you think we should stay alive?” and she replied “I still haven’t been to that concert I wanted to go to”. And I said, “I didn’t get a chance to become a mother,” which is my dream. And we tried to stay optimistic, to say why our Dad can’t be, just can’t be dead, because he hadn’t had a chance to become a grandfather yet, he hadn’t done all the things he’d wanted to do. We tried to stay optimistic and say, if we get out of this alive, what do we want to do? It passed the time.


Sunday morning came. My mother, I was so mad at her, but she saved our lives. She decided that for her sanity, she’s going out to smoke. I was so angry. We have the safe room, and right outside of it, a door leading out of the house. So she went out that door to smoke. At 2:23 pm on Sunday, when everyone else had been evacuated during Saturday night. There was no way to communicate with us, they thought we were dead. And my mom went out to smoke, and happened to see soldiers. And she said to them - you can see it in the video, I got a video of everything, as a media person. She went out to smoke, saw soldiers, and said to them, “Come rescue us”. And they said, “Listen, everyone thought you were dead. We thought there was a terrorist with you, and we were evacuating [live] civilians [first], that’s why we didn’t come get you yet.” And they came, and said, “Pack your things and go.”


It got to 4 in the afternoon, and still, no one came. We said, “Fine, guess we’ll stay here another week.” We didn’t believe anyone anymore. And then after 4 pm someone finally came to evacuate us, and we were on our way out of the house, but they said, “Go back, there are lots of terrorists surrounding the building.” Crazy gunfire.


“When I left the house, I saw that there was no Kibbutz. No houses, no paths. All bodies and blood, and even while we were driving away I looked outside the window and saw things I shouldn’t have seen. I’m telling it all technically, but it’s impossible to explain what happened there, and no one could ever understand unless they were there”

And when I left the house, I saw that there was no Kibbutz. No houses, no paths. All bodies and blood, and even while we were driving away I looked outside the window and saw things I shouldn’t have seen. I’m telling it all technically, but it’s impossible to explain what happened there, and no one could ever understand unless they were there. Every minute was an eternity, and I don’t feel right comparing it to the Holocaust, but it was a Holocaust. No food, no water, no electricity, just waiting for death. At one point I said, “Come on, come and get it over with already, I can’t anymore.”


And then my good friend called me, the one that had originally informed me of the terrorists he saw. He said, “Shaili, they shot me,” and I heard, “Allahu akbar” from the other end of the phone, and I didn’t know what to do. I thought he died, because the phone went dead. 


We were evacuated, and transferred to the Alonit gas station at the Kibbutz, which had a rest stop. They said, “Take food, take water, you don’t know where you’re going or for how long.” But because we were the last five families to be evacuated, nothing was left, not even water. I turned on my phone, and realized everybody had already started grieving me. They all thought I was dead. My boyfriend was in Paris. That’s when I started hearing about the extent of the tragedy, and realized it was way bigger than I’d ever imagined or thought. 



Shaili A. 


Credit: Israel Hayom


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