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Survivor stories

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  • Moti H.'s story

The people at the checkpoint looked strange, I thought I could spot them holding Kalashnikov rifles

It is hard to believe that all of this was real. The chain of events unfolded over 36 hours, marked by a challenging fight with little rest, concluding with a big consolation at the end.

The young soldier [my daughter] was undergoing her military paramedic course together with 35 others. That weekend they went out together to Kibbutz Sufa in the south of the border with Gaza.





On Saturday morning, sirens started blaring everywhere, followed by a heavy rocket barrage. Reports surfaced that Hamas had breached the security fence, and started an attack on the surrounding villages. The scenes were distressing and fleeting. A strong internal instinct prompted me to be cautious and not to rely on luck, on our security system, or the kindness of the wrongdoers from Hamas. I bid goodbye to my partner, got in the car and headed south. As I was driving, the journey was fraught with [rocket] interceptions above, blocked roads and restricted passages. Eventually I got through.


“Terrorists infiltrated a significant military base. How could this happen? The soldiers were outside, and the terrorists inside”

Scene 1: Highway 241 had vehicles crammed on the side of the road, and people running with drawn weapons. Terrorists infiltrated a significant military base. How could this happen? The soldiers were outside, and the terrorists inside. Explosives were being detonated, there were screams of frightened female soldiers from the base emanating in the background. There were battles, the scenes were very difficult to watch.

Scene 2: A number of injured young people in civilian clothes, at the Urim gas station. They looked traumatized. “What happened?”. “They shot at us at the party” they answered. “Where exactly? Who was with you?”. After gathering the information about the party, and where the bad guys were, the investigation began. Additional vehicles arrived, with frightened people looking for others who were at the party with them. It was chaos. The young people were being sent to Ofakim . Figures of terrorists could be seen in the area west of the gas station.


“As I was slowing down approaching them, they pulled out their weapons and shot at the young men who were lying on the side of the road - presumably those who had fled from the party, killing them. It was a massacre!”

Scene 3: Speeding towards Sufa, I spotted an old black motorcycle destroyed and abandoned on the road, surrounded by broken parts.



It was a hundred meters ahead of a checkpoint, presumably left there by a terrorist. The people at the checkpoint looked strange, I thought I could spot them holding Kalashnikov rifles.

As I was slowing down approaching them, they pulled out their weapons and shot at the young men who were lying on the side of the road - presumably those who had fled from the party, killing them. It was a massacre! It was crazy! While bullets were buzzing across the vehicle, I made a swift u-turn, and then a hard right turn, vanishing into the fields.


Scene 4: A member of one of the Rapid Response Team’s in one of the nearby villages asked me what I was doing there. I answered that I was on my way to my daughter in Sufa and asked how I could help. They were professionals dedicated to protecting the area, as terrorists lurked at every corner, and four people had been kidnapped. The evening was filled with ongoing investigations and information gathering. I was worried about the kids. Everything was blocked, there were endless rocket sirens, and terrorists everywhere. We had casualties, terrorist infiltration and people being kidnapped. The sense of pain ran deep within me. Frustration set in as Sufa was just a little bit further away.




I received an update: battles were raging in the kibbutz and there were casualties. Although I was only 20 minutes from Sufa, I spent a sleepless night next to the moshav’s fence.


“The road was desolate, with dozens of vehicles burned and shattered by bullets. Bodies and body parts were scattered everywhere, tanks were on fire, equipment and clothes littered the roads”

Scene 5: Sunday morning military forces arrived and reported that Sufa was under attack. The stress reached its peak, with concerns about what had happened to my daughter and her friends. I decided that this was “now or never”. Despite the very real and tangible danger, unable to contain my worry, I made the decision to get in the car and request to leave the village. When asked if I was sure about this, I responded affirmatively, fully aware of the potential risk. They cautioned me, saying I could get killed. After giving a farewell hug to my newfound friends, I drove at high speed towards Sufa. The road was desolate, with dozens of vehicles burned and shattered by bullets. Bodies and body parts were scattered everywhere, tanks were on fire, equipment and clothes littered the roads. Upon arriving at Sufa: a deadly silence hung in the air. The gate was closed, I could not open it. Bullets had hit the guard post, motorcycles were abandoned at the kibbutz gate. Feeling I had no other choice, I crawled under the kibbutz gate, recognizing the dangerous and unwise gamble I was taking. Walking on the main road to ensure I was clearly recognized as a non-threat and not a target, I noticed a sniper waving, and he nodded. It felt like a miracle. Arriving at the residential area, I received a warm hug from the girls, and a sigh of relief washed over me as I attempted to process the magnitude of what had happened. The general asked me: “ Who are you? How did you get here? Where did you come from?” I said that I came to get the kids out of here. They were unarmed and there was nothing for them to do here. The general [seemed baffled asking]: “What are you talking about?”




Scene 6: The army on the home front did not understand the magnitude of the event, most of the kids seemed calm. I recruited two fighters from Nir Yitzhak who happened to be stranded in Sufa. Our mission was clear: to protect the homes and the young people. Pressuring the sector commander to rescue the soldiers, I encountered resistance as we were not deemed an operational priority. A bus driver caught in the scene was insisting on leaving Sufa. He was our only chance, but there was no permission given for us to leave. I pressured the general. The evacuation was set for eleven in the morning. At 10:55 [there were reports] of terrorists between Holit and Sufa. There was intense shooting. The rescue operation was postponed. In the meantime the kids were staying inside. I considered a rescue using a convoy of vehicles, but there was no way for that to succeed. The terrorists would massacre everyone. Again the bus [attempted to leave], but once more terrorists were reported near the kibbutz, resulting in another postponement. The situation appeared grim. At 15:00 there was a lull which offered an unprecedented opportunity. The general, acknowledging the chance, agreed to organize an evacuation and waited for approval. The plan involved a military escort, with the kids transported by bus. It was the final countdown, and off we went.




Scene 7: Twenty minutes of tense driving unfolded, passing the burning and bullet-ridden cars, witnessing the kids scattered on the ground. The bus came to a halt, followed by the escort jeep. We stepped out of the vehicle to see what happened. Four figures of terrorists emerged in the field to the left of the road. The soldiers approached screaming, urging the driver and the military escort to get into the car and flee.. The signs for Tze'elim were already visible on the horizon in green and white: Kibbutz Tze'elim. The man at the gate scolded me for not coordinating in advance. "Leave him, he won't understand," one of the girls reassured me. We sighed. Heaving a sigh of relief, 36 soldiers make their way to their homes and their units. The mission was accomplished. I got in the car and headed home to get some rest. The parents thanked me for rescuing their kids, but only God knows how much our lives hung by a thread during the evacuation. We are strong, we will overcome.





The scars will hurt for a while but I hope we will learn and mend.

Better days will come.

For the freedom of Israel!


Moti H.

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