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

  • Celine B.'s story

My father realized we were going to die either way, so we should at least try to escape

I couldn’t believe I would stay alive. I waited for them to murder me, and miraculously I survived. What I experienced on that Saturday changed my life, and I don’t know how I will ever recover after what I went through. I am broken, crushed, and can barely contain it all.

Saturday at 7:00 am. I was asleep in my bedroom, which is the safe room. It felt like my room was about to explode from the number of rockets and blasts. I’ve lived in Netiv HaAsara my entire life, so I’ve experienced a thing or two when it comes to the security tensions on the border. But I’ve never experienced a barrage at this pace.

My sister went into a panic attack and I tried to keep calm. Telling myself that I’m strong and I can get through this. I’m in the safe room- which is the safest space. I gave my sister an anti anxiety pill and I thought it would all be okay.

"We grabbed knives, knowing they wouldn’t help. The terrorists had poison in their eyes"

A few minutes after that, I heard gunshots. The room was silent and there were just looks of disbelief. Shooting? Why would there be shooting? It can’t be. I told myself that it doesn’t make any sense that there would be terrorists; it’s simply not what I thought it was. And I truly believed that I imagined it all, that there wasn’t shooting.

Up until then, I felt like I was under control. There was probably an operation where a senior leader of the terror group was killed, and this is their retaliation, as always. A few minutes later, I brought my mother her phone and we looked in the Whatsapp group for our village and read the following text message: “They’re here at my house, they tried to open the door. Help me, quickly. They have green scarves wrapped around their heads and weapons.”

We grabbed knives, knowing they wouldn’t help. The terrorists had poison in their eyes and weapons, and we’re terrified with knives.

That’s it, from that moment on, I was in a live horror movie. I had a panic attack, for the first time in my life. I lost control over my body, I was shaking like crazy, I couldn’t breathe, and in my head I was thinking that I’m probably going to die today. What about everything I planned? What about all the people that I love? What about my family? How is it all ending like this?

We were powerless, just waiting for the terrorists to get to us, without any way to defend ourselves. We grabbed knives, knowing they wouldn’t help. The terrorists had poison in their eyes and weapons, and we were terrified and armed with knives. This was a war with a predetermined outcome.

We sat in the safe room for hours, waiting patiently for them to murder us. We put the refrigerator in front of the door, an armchair in front of the other door, and then I took my mom’s phone and read more messages:

“There are strange noises coming from our yard.”

“People are speaking to each other in Arabic. Come quickly.”

“They’re at our house!”

"The worst possible scenario I could ever imagine in my life was happening in reality"

I recognized that these are our neighbors, and in a few minutes my story in this world will end.

My parents were in complete shock just looking at their Whatsapp messages, as if that will save them. My sister took command and said that it was better to be killed by a rocket than to be murdered at the hands of a terrorist, so we decided to leave the safe room and hide. Karin and I went to hide, under very heavy rocket fire. We laid flat on the ground and prayed with our hands covering our heads.

We heard gunfire from the neighborhood and understood that they were massacring our village. My village was bleeding and I was powerless. The worst possible scenario I could ever imagine in my life was happening in reality.

"A complete stranger hugged me. I begged her: ‘Please hug me, hug me, they murdered my friend’"

Around 5:30 pm we received a text message about evacuating the village. At that time the terrorists were still walking around freely. We decided to take five minutes to pack everything we could and drive away. During the time I was packing, I discovered that Neta, my good friend, had been murdered. My Neta that I love so dearly. He was in his apartment with his girlfriend, they threw a grenade into the apartment and it went up in flames. Neta made it outside and they shot him, over and over again. In my worst nightmares, I could have never imagined this would happen. I thought, “How am I going to cope now with what I went through and with Neta’s death?” I barely shed a tear and was mad at myself for not falling apart.

I fell to the ground, and a complete stranger hugged me. I begged her: ‘Please hug me, hug me, they murdered my friend’. She began to cry and I lost it.

I tried to pull myself together and make it to the car. As we reached the parked car, I heard rapid gunfire from a machine gun a few meters from me. I said to my parents in a panic: “Please please, let’s go back home. The shooting is right here.” My father said to get into the car and drive as fast as possible. He realized we were going to die either way, and we should at least try to escape.

The two minute drive throughout our village felt like forever, and I prayed, knowing that terrorists were roaming free around us. In retrospect, I realized that I had passed by houses full of dead bodies. The gunshots that I heard were of terrorists murdering my neighbors. While we were driving, Karin and I saw abandoned cars in the middle of the main road – doors open, windows open, and no one inside. The entire road filled with fires burning and no one was fighting them, because that just wasn’t at the top of the priority list at that moment. We stopped at a gas station and I saw a barrage of rockets above me so I ran in a complete frenzy to the public shelter in the station, and there my fourth panic attack began. I fell to the ground, and a woman I don’t know, a complete stranger, hugged me. I begged her: “Please hug me, hug me, they murdered my friend, please.” She began to cry and I lost it.

We arrived in Netanya, where my friend Shir’s family is now hosting us. I couldn’t stop crying and was in complete shock, apathetic, emotionally unable to answer hundred’s of people’s text messages. I still didn’t understand the magnitude of what had happened. Two days later, I woke up to discover that another friend of mine was murdered, a friend who was more like a brother, my confidante, the most special person I had ever known.

Still now, I’m waiting for someone to tell me that this was all a dream. That it wasn’t real. I’m waiting to hear that he’s alive even though I know that it’s probably not true. I’m broken and crushed, I’m emotionally unavailable. I started therapy, but I don’t know how I will function from now on. My life has been split in two: before October 7th, 2023 and after October 7th, 2023.

Celine B.

Celine B.'s story

Celine B.'s story

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