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Survivor stories

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Another group of terrorists arrived - with a pickup truck to take us back in

  • Atar K.'s story

My father's phone died, leaving me uncertain about my parents' fate

By 2 a.m, we had been in the safe room for 19.5 hours.


The children had fallen asleep, only to be jolted awake by every blast, and then they would drift off to sleep again. For the previous seven hours, a power outage had plunged us into darkness. Each of us had huddled next to a child. I didn't know if my parents were still alive.

In our last correspondence, they had mentioned that their house was on fire. Terrorists had attempted to breach the safe room door, and a thick plume of smoke had infiltrated the room.


Yes, they had lain on the floor, and they had done their best to seal the crack at the bottom of the door with rags. They were well aware that leaving the safe room was not an option, and the air was growing increasingly difficult to breathe. Then my father's phone died, leaving me uncertain about my parents' fate.

I lay there, tears streaming down my face, as 19.5 hours dragged on in the safe room.


Outside, there were bursts of gunfire, grenades, and tank fire. Was this what safety sounded like? Suddenly, we heard furious kicks at the front door. Were they terrorists or soldiers?

The door finally gave way, and they stormed in, pounding at the safe room door, shouting, "IDF."


I couldn't help but think - anyone could yell "IDF."

I exchanged a nervous glance [with my husband].


My husband cautiously opened the door, revealing a group of soldiers. "Quickly, you're being evacuated. Don't forget phones and shoes for the kids," they urged, their words cutting deep.

"Shoes for the kids." We woke the children, and they were petrified, refusing to budge. They had a point, considering the ongoing bursts of gunfire, grenades, and tank fire.


"The children trembled in our arms, like leaves in the wind. 'Mommy, I'm scared'"


I had spent 19.5 hours telling them we couldn't leave until it was safe. Was this what safety sounded like? We reminded them of what we had said earlier: we'd leave the house with them in our arms, eyes tightly shut, and we'd tell them when to open them. The children trembled in our arms, like leaves in the wind. "Mommy, I'm scared."


We exited the house and saw a long line of our neighbors on the path, the elderly, parents, and children, all standing and waiting for the army to evacuate as many of us as possible at once.


The sound of gunfire was growing nearer, and the children continued to shake in our arms.


We began to move. The kids and I rode in a jeep with two other families. I introduced our soldier escort to my children, wanting them to know he had a name and that he cared about them. We had so much rebuilding ahead, and I wondered if they would ever trust anyone again.


"Bodies littered the once-familiar paths, the same paths where children had once played with roller blades"


The children continued to tremble in our arms.


I remained firm, reminding them again to keep their heads down and eyes closed. As we started driving, my words proved crucial. Bodies littered the once-familiar paths, the same paths where children had once played with roller blades, chalk, hopscotch, snails, and sprinkles. Now, they were filled with lifeless bodies.


They dropped us off at the kibbutz gate, or what remained of it. From there, we joined a group of soldiers and headed north.


After 25 tense minutes, one of them announced to his team, "You can remove your tactical vests."


I gazed down at my still trembling children and whispered, "It's over now. We're safe."


Atar K.

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