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

  • Dor R.'s story

They were walking, patrolling, looking for people. All day long, we heard them shouting in Arabic

I'm Dor, and I was at the Nova party on October 7. We were eight friends there.

Thank God, all eight of us made it back safely.

At 6:30, the [rocket] sirens went off. We decided to stay at the party site and clean up a bit. We saw people leaving in a panic, but we decided to stay for a bit. We had brought a tent that opens quickly, but folds back very slowly, and watched videos on how to fold it back up for about 10 minutes. Ridiculous.

In the meantime, we heard that there had been a terrorist infiltration. I was talking to my mother and a good friend from home, and he sent me videos of the paraglider's infiltration in Sderot. The very first videos that were published. He told me that the missiles were being shot in order to distract people from the terrorist infiltration, not specifically for a missile attack.

I remember hearing rockets in the party area even before 6:30, but there were no sirens. They must have been mortars or some other types of projectiles. I remember that around 6:45 I heard the first gunshots. I didn’t understand. I heard them with my own ears. I thought we were about a kilometer from the border, and that the shots were coming from the border itself, that someone was approaching the border and we were shooting at them to deter them.

When we understood that terrorists had infiltrated, we started packing up more quickly.

In the meantime, I told my friends that there were terrorists inside [Kibbutz] Be’eri and Re’im, and at the army outposts. That there’s chaos in the army. We decided to drive out of there. Just a few minutes before the missiles had started, I ran into my cousin. I told him, "See you on the dance floor." A moment later, the missiles started and we didn’t see each other.

We decided to head for the main road. There was a security route that the police and security vehicles had patrolled during the night. All the party-goers escaping the area took that route. We were about 50 meters away from that road when the police shouted, "Danger! Terrorists on the road! Stay off the road!” They repeated this announcement several times.

We saw people trying to bypass the police. There were trees on the right, and the sand was slightly elevated on the left, and we tried every way we could to reach the other side. We decided to retrace our steps, and get to the other side that way.

“We understood that we were trapped, that we had nowhere to go.”

On the other side of the road, we heard the same warning: "Danger! Terrorists on the road! Stay off the road!' We understood that we were trapped, that we had nowhere to go. I was in the car with two friends, Barak and Almog, and I told myself that in another hour this whole thing would be over. I would go back to my car, and everything would be fine.

We were approaching the road, about 50 to 60 meters away from it, when we saw people running away from the cars in complete panic. Until that moment, I hadn’t yet seen the terrorists. They shot with snipers and machine guns, firing at the cars and targeting the party-goers. We saw everyone running away in sheer panic.

At that moment, Almog, who had been with me in the car, had a panic attack and ran away saying she wouldn’t get back into the car. I had just met Barak at the party, but he already knew Almog. I asked him to go after her. He went after her, and for a moment, I lost both of them. I got out of the car to look for them. I found them and at that stage, everything was suddenly quiet and people started getting back into their cars to get out of the area.

The other car that had been with us passed us somewhere, and we didn’t see it again.

I decided that I wasn’t going to be separated from them [Almog and Barak] again. I would stick with them, no matter what. I found them, but couldn’t convince them to get back into the car. I walked back to the car, moved it aside and parked it. When I got out of the car, I saw terrorists everywhere. Some were in trucks, others were on foot, they started invading the party area. They were shooting in every direction. I ran, shouting, "The terrorists are here!"

“When I got out of the car, I saw terrorists everywhere. Some were in trucks, others were on foot, they started invading the party area.”

We ran downhill. The party was above Nahal Gerar, and we were in the Nahal Gerar Wadi [valley]. We got there at about 8:00 in the morning. We saw the terrorists coming towards us, and ran to the wadi. We were about ten people, anxiously scanning every direction, wondering where they would come from, and if they would come quickly. We realized that we were in an exposed, vulnerable spot and decided to hide inside the trees.

We squeezed into a small bush, maybe one or two square meters in size. Two other people got into another bush in front of us, while the remaining group were a bit behind us. We huddled in that cramped space, three of us in a small bush, with the path that the terrorists were taking, with their vans and motorcycles, behind us. They were walking, patrolling, looking for people. All day long, we heard them shouting in Arabic "Allah Aakbar!" "Ayn Ant Yehud?" [Where are you?] In Hebrew they shouted, "Come out you cowards!"

"All day long, we heard them shouting in Arabic 'Allah Aakbar!' 'Ayn Ant Yehud?' [Where are you?] In Hebrew they shouted, 'Come out you cowards!'"

There was one conversation that I heard where they [the terrorists] didn't even know each other. They asked each other, “What's your name?” That's how many terrorists there were. There was a point when I heard a lot of gunshots around me, but I couldn't gauge the distance. I didn't sense any movement around me in the bushes, but [the gunfire] felt very close.

At 8:30, I lost my phone connection. I was disconnected for 8 hours. At about noon, we spotted four figures walking around the wadi. I had my feet right outside the bushes. They passed by, right above my feet, without noticing them. They only had to look to the left and they would have seen me and found us. Fortunately, they just didn't see us and continued on their rampage, searching for people on their way.

We just focused on not moving anything in the bush. The trees were so dry that every movement could be heard. Even if we just wanted to turn around or move a hand, they would have heard it. Luckily, they didn't notice us. There was one point when I argued with Barak. “I need to go to the toilet, I have to pee,” I said. He told me, “No. You’re not moving,” and convinced me. Somehow, I fell asleep in our hiding place. Sometimes they say it’s a response similar to when a small child shuts down. That's just how the body responded at some point.

At about 15:00, we heard someone shouting, "Help!" There had been an hour of complete silence before that, when we had tried to figure out if there was a battle going on or not. Who was shooting at whom? I remember trying to understand if someone had been yelling something like "Ahh!" or "Help" or something. There had been nothing, all these hours. And then we suddenly heard, "Help!"

I couldn't look because I was facing the opposite direction to where it was coming from. Barak and Almog were facing that way and could raise their heads and see. They looked, and Barak signaled to me to stay quiet. The man shouted "Help!" again, twice. Two people who were in front of us asked him, "What's going on? Is everything OK? Crouch down, get in [the bushes]”. We wondered why they did it. He could have been a terrorist.

I looked around, looking left, right, straight ahead, and saw nothing. All of a sudden, I saw someone and asked Barak, "Where did they go?" He told me to look to the right and I saw someone in a uniform coming from the bushes, pointing a weapon at me. I started walking towards him and he shouted, “Identify yourself!" I told him I was Dor Raz, and he said, "Come!" There were three soldiers there, combing the area. They led us somewhere and stood us beside a burnt tree.

“It was then that we saw the damage. Burnt-out cars, dead bodies still inside them.”

It was then that we saw the damage. Burnt-out cars, dead bodies still inside them. The police cars that had blocked the road earlier in the morning, with the bodies of the police officers. Horrific.

We stood next to a burnt tree and they said to us, “Do you see those two vehicles? Run." They said, "I know that you want to look and see what is around you, but I’m asking you not to look around. We are at war, walk face down.” We ran towards the vehicles. There, one of the guys who had been rescued with us met his father, who had come to look for him.

They crossed Road 232 with us, the blood-stained road. There were many vehicles along the road, from people who had tried to escape earlier in the morning. We tried to go around them, but the car got stuck because of the weight. There were eight of us inside of it. The father said to us, "Get out of the car. I’ll keep driving and you’ll join me once I've passed all the cars.” We left the car and ran, hiding between vehicles, and met him further along the road. He brought us to safety at the village of Patish.

Dor R.

A photo of Dor R. immediately after being rescued. 

It was only at 16:00 that I managed to contact my family, having been out of contact with them since 8:30 in the morning. I had already written a farewell message to my parents. Luckily, they hadn’t received it. They got it only at about 15:00, when I was saved and with the army, only then did they get it. My phone battery had died, so I was in even more of a panic. In Patish, we recorded what had happened. I understood that we were among the last people to be rescued from the area. After us, only another 15 people or so were rescued.

I don’t know what happened to the people who had hidden near us, those who moved on after our brief conversations. I would like to know. I've managed to confirm that one person survived. He’s in the reserves right now with a good friend of mine. I know that another one was murdered. I don’t know about the rest.

I made it home that day at 19:50. To this day, I can't explain how [the terrorists] didn't see us. They just needed to look in our direction. Anyone who survived, it was just a matter of luck. 

When my brother picked me up from Gadera, he told me that he had talked to Tamar, who had been in the other car of our group, the car that had split from us on the road. I asked him “How did you get to them? I was sure they were dead.” For hours, I had been sure they were dead, because I was sure everyone on the road had been murdered, and how could they have escaped if not on the road. He said he had talked to them, and a weight was lifted from my heart knowing that they had survived, all the passengers in that car, there were five of them. Mordechai, Tamara, Yaeli, Eleanor, and Shay.

My cousin was injured by shrapnel from a grenade and was in the hospital. He had been in a migunit [small roadside concrete shelter] at the entrance to Kibbutz Be’eri. The one that had forty people inside, and only ten made it out alive. They managed to rescue him at about 14:00. He had hidden under corpses. The terrorists had thrown grenades into the migunit and then gone in to ensure that everyone had been killed. Two of his friends were murdered.

It has taken a long time to understand what happened there. In my head, the order of things doesn't quite work out. What in our choices caused us to be a second before every danger? Deciding not to go on the road, leaving the car, everything was just a matter of seconds. 

Dor R.

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