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Survivor stories

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

  • Anonymous soldier's story

I will not be another female soldier who was killed during a military operation. Not me

We've been in the shelter for three hours.

The door was briefly opened to let in fresh air, but it's remained closed ever since.

Word reached our commander in the operations room that terrorists had infiltrated the base. They said that one of our own had been kidnapped. Since that call, the sounds of gunfire, helicopters, and tanks have been ceaseless. The door's lock is broken, so we take turns holding it shut.

I don’t feel thirsty, I just crave fresh air. It feels that any minute now, some of the girls here might faint. The "Red Alert" siren blares. The girls in the operations room can’t hold a 5-hour shift! I wish I could run into my room, grab a bulletproof vest and helmet, and take over for them.

"We're fighters, yet now, I feel like caged chickens."

My neck feels too weak to hold my head. We all pray ‘She-ma Yisrael, Adonai eloheinu, Adonai echad’ (Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One).

What’s the point of holding this door shut? If terrorists are within our walls, we don’t have enough strength to resist. Breathe. Remember, it's Shabbat.

How can everything outside be burning while we're stuck here? We're fighters, yet now, I feel like caged chickens. Once we get out, the real dread begins: finding out who was kidnapped or killed, praying it isn't someone I know.

More gunshots. I am not going to faint!

Outside, a war rages. I've shifted from sitting on the floor to pressing against the door. I hear a loud explosion, I guess it’s a tank. She-ma Yisrael, Adonai eloheinu, Adonai echad!

Four hours in. 35 kidnapped, two soldiers. Panic sets in. We urge each other to keep going, to breathe, to hold on. We have no air.

"I've survived so far; I can make it through this."

Five hours in. Two girls have collapsed. We use cardboard found on the floor to fan them.

I shouldn’t look at the other girls in the room. I try to concentrate on a silly game on my phone so I won’t cry. I've spoken to my family. I have a headache.

I've survived so far; I can make it through this. This will become another story to tell. That’s it. Hold on.

When one of the girls throws up, we briefly open the door for fresh air. I feel like a rat. I want to get out of here. I will not be another female soldier who was killed during a military operation. Not me. Calm down. Breathe. I beg myself. My phone buzzes with incoming messages. I reply.

Six hours have passed. You are strong. Everything is going to be alright.

My head is so heavy. As long as I see a light coming through the door it means air is coming through. There is urine all over the floor. I think I am losing my mind. I wonder how this is going to affect my mental health.

Seven hours in and another "Red Alert" siren blares.


I update my family that I am alive. Now back to sitting on the floor.

Eight hours.

I’m dehydrated. The explosions and gunfire persist. I don’t think we are going to get out soon. Soldiers from Zikim are shooting the terrorists. Good news, I guess. How long can we survive here? I feel like maybe it’s going to end soon, but I don’t know what kind of ending is waiting for me.

Nine hours.

I’m so so hot. I don’t want to die here. I feel so weak. I’m not okay. We need help.

The sound of the explosions is so loud. Another “Red Alert” siren. I know that help is on its way. Please make them hurry up. DO NOT GIVE UP.

"Will all of us make it by the time they are here?"

Ten hours.

Still, we wait. Why are they taking so long? Someone else fainted. I can’t take it anymore.

Hold on. You can do it.

Eleven hours.

They say they're scanning the base and will release us soon.

But will all of us make it by the time they are here?

They are finally here. Two of us need medical attention, but we are out of that shelter.

A, a 19-year-old border observant soldier, was one of the survivors of the harrowing attack in southern Israel.

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