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Three terrorists surrounded our car and started shooting. We all ducked immediately

  • Neta S.'s story

We knew that as long as there were no calls or sirens, we would stay to help

My husband and I woke to the sounds of explosions. We heard them before the sirens reached Ashkelon, and thought they were probably from rocket interceptions heading towards other cities. At around 7:00 am, the first siren sounded in Ashkelon. We don’t have a safe room in our apartment, so we went to the building’s stairwell. The sirens didn’t stop after that. We already know how to distinguish between an explosion caused by a rocket falling and one from an interception, and we knew that we were only hearing [rocket] falls…


“There were more than 15 fires in the city after the rocket attack.  For the first time, we began to understand the magnitude of what was happening.”


Without thinking twice, even though both my husband and I are religious and observe the Sabbath, we started the car and began driving towards the clouds of smoke nearby. We scanned the area and didn’t see anyone injured, so we tried with some nearby civilians to put the fire out with a water hose. We waited for a firetruck for about 20 minutes. When they arrived, we asked them innocently why it had taken them so long to arrive and they answered that there were more than 15 fires in the city after the rocket attack… For the first time, we began to understand the magnitude of what was happening.


A married couple volunteering at the MDA next to an ambulance

Credit: News08


There was a break in the sirens so we decided to go to the synagogue. During the prayers another round of sirens began and we heard more rockets falling. My husband Moti, a volunteer paramedic for MDA [Magen David Adom], began receiving messages on his phone. Every moment a different person would enter the synagogue and yell at us: “What are you doing here? There are terrorists, there are explosions, there are rockets falling, go home!”. We debated whether to lock the doors [of the synagogue] or evacuate; There were rumors that there were terrorists inside of the city.


For Moti and me, it was clear that we were going to go to the station to take an ambulance. We tried to leave the synagogue but another siren sounded, so we went back inside to take cover and waited 10 minutes [as instructed by the Homefront Command]. We tried to leave again and another siren sounded. It kept going like this, many times. Finally we managed to get to our car, but sirens were going off throughout the entire drive to the station. The drive took us 40 minutes, where on a normal day it would take 10 minutes or less. The dispatcher rushed to get us out into the field. We treated several cases and then we got to the village of Kochav Michael, where we treated a number of people who had been shot, soldiers, and police officers. For every person who arrived, an ambulance picked them up, stabilized their condition in the field, evacuated them to a hospital and then turned around and came back.


“We came upon a car and the driver signaled for us to stop and help him. We discovered a large number of bodies inside the car. We collected ourselves and, along with the driver, transferred the bodies to take them to pathology, but could not understand what was happening.”

On the way back from Ashdod, we saw Ashkelon covered in clouds of smoke, destroyed. My husband and I grew up in Ashkelon and it was hard to see our city ruined. Cars were destroyed, there was smoke everywhere, and entire neighborhoods were without shelter. I saw rockets falling and knew that they were likely to fall on a house and injure someone. There was nowhere to go, no way to take cover. I prayed and hoped that everything would be okay.


Our neighbor, who lives right across from us, took a direct hit [from a rocket]. He lost both of his legs and died later in the hospital. While we were outside of the city evacuating the wounded, our neighborhood experienced a catastrophe. It was hard to believe that this was our city, that this was happening inside of it, and it was horrible. 


We came upon a car and the driver signaled for us to stop and help him. We discovered a large number of bodies inside the car. We collected ourselves and, along with the driver, transferred the bodies to take them to pathology, but could not understand what was happening. The pathology lab was fully packed at a level that I have never been exposed to. We saw bodies of children, women, in unimaginable numbers.


After we finished unloading everyone, a military ambulance arrived, opened its doors and we were stunned to see a huge pile of bodies. It was full from floor to ceiling. We knew that as long as there were no calls or sirens, we would stay to help. That we were needed here. We started to unload the bodies, and at some point I looked at my phone so I could message my mother to let her know we were okay, and then I saw messages about hostages, captive soldiers, and so many dead. It was mass chaos. That’s how we continued our shift until the evening. We treated the living, and paid our last respects to the dead.


“A military ambulance arrived, opened its doors and we were stunned to see a huge pile of bodies. It was full from floor to ceiling”


Someone who arrived in a private car told us that he had held the door handle to his safe room and almost passed out from the pain, holding the door for so long while terrorists tried to open it. At the last moment, just before he was about to pass out, they suddenly left and that’s how he survived. He told us that he went outside and found his neighbors and friends killed, so he carried them to his car and brought them to the pathology lab. A really heroic story. That was October 7th that hit us so incredibly hard. 


The case that is engraved upon my memory was that of the head of Kibbutz Gevim’s rapid response squad. He woke up that morning, left his family, walked to the gate [of the kibbutz] and saved his family, entire families, and his village. Even though he was injured, he sat with me in the ambulance and wanted to check in with the rapid response squad to see if they were all okay. He was still there – he was conscious, but he wasn’t present. He didn’t care that he was in an ambulance and in pain; he didn’t feel anything. He only cared about what was happening with them. He took out his phone to call them and I stopped him and suggested calling his wife to tell her that he was okay, he was alive, and to check on his children. I tried to remind him that it was behind him, and that he was in our care now. He had done his part, had saved the village, and is a great hero. We tried to show him a sense of emotion, a feeling of warmth, what he needed. That was beholding a true hero. There are no words.


One of the strongest things I saw that day was the unity, at each of the places we stopped and in the hospitals. The war hadn’t started yet and people had already set up efforts to bring food and drinks to the MDA teams and to the hospital staff. Some of them even came to the station because they were concerned. There was concern for everyone around, and that is one of the most important things: to protect our unity, to be together and to take care of one another. Of course we – the security forces, MDA personnel, police – answer the call professionally and as best we can. We do our work and the nation, those that can, do good. We have to maintain our unity and togetherness. 


With G-d’s help, I pray that all of the hostages will be returned, that all of the injured will return to their homes safe and sound, and that we will all be okay. We hope for the best.


Neta S.

Volunteer Medic from Ashkelon


Credit: News08

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