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They put an explosive device on the door of the safe room

  • Rotem C.'s story

We realized they want to burn us alive


I decided to share the most shattering experience I have ever had in my life. I still can’t grasp that it happened to me and my family, and that by some great miracle we survived. On Saturday October 7, at 6:30 in the morning, the red alert siren sounded. We ran to the safe room, just as we were used to doing, closed the iron window and the door. The sound of rockets didn’t stop. 


At 7:08, my neighbor called and asked me if his partner and their four-and-a-half-month-old daughter could come and be with us because the rapid response squad [of which he was part of] had been called and I immediately answered, yes. They arrived a few minutes later. 

We shut ourselves up in the safe room. At 7:15, one of the members of the rapid response squad sent a message that he had seen terrorists next to the clinic. And then we started to get messages from other residents in the kibbutz. Each time, someone else wrote that the terrorists were in their house, that they were trying to break down the door of their safe room, that they were burning the house, that they were suffocating from the smoke. 

Throughout all this, I was writing with some of our relatives and at around 10:30, I started to lose reception on my phone. All this time, we heard nonstop shooting, explosions, and red alert sirens. We realized that we were next. 


“All this time, we heard nonstop shooting, explosions, and red alert sirens. We realized that we were next.”

We heard them [the terrorists] ]tearing apart our neighbor’s house and realized that in just a few moments they would be at our house. My stomach churned, and then towards 11:00, they came into our home. We told the kids that no matter what happens, they must keep quiet. We heard the terrorists breaking into our house, getting closer to the safe room, knocking on the door and shouting in Arabic to open the door. Then they tried to open the door of the safe room, it was a battle of hands between Yakir and the terrorists for about 40 minutes. 


And then we heard shooting and Mika, our dog, began to moan in pain, running from place to place in the safe room, and bleeding. We realized that a bullet had penetrated the door of the safe room, (a terrifying possibility). Then the terrorists tried to open the iron window. Yakir went over there to hold it. Who thought to lock an iron window? And then they went to the door again. Yakir held the door handle and I held the iron window.   

Suddenly we heard a crazy boom, and I couldn’t hear anything. They had thrown a grenade at the iron window, but I kept holding it tightly. Suddenly, I realized that Yakir had been wounded by one of the bullets but he hadn’t said anything to me. He took the baby’s changing pad and Inbal’s bandana and tied it around his thigh. All this time, our neighbor was holding her baby with one hand and our three children close to her, everyone under the bed.    


“I realized that Yakir had been wounded by one of the bullets but he hadn’t said anything to me.”

At this point, the terrorists stopped fighting the safe room and we heard them breaking things. They looted everything they could, and then one of the terrorists shouted in Hebrew, “Today you won’t have an afternoon.” After a few minutes, we started to smell smoke and realized that they wanted to burn us alive. There was a strong smell that penetrated the safe room and burned our throats. The walls of the safe room were insanely hot, as if we were in an oven with the heat turned all the way up. 


“The walls of the safe room were insanely hot, as if we were in an oven with the heat turned all the way up.”

The kids started to throw up and we were helpless. We waited for them [the terrorists] to leave and then Yakir opened the window of a little to check that they weren’t waiting for us. We didn’t see anyone. We opened the window a little more and Yakir let everyone take a turn breathing clean air. 


“We couldn’t stay in the safe room anymore. The smoke was suffocating us and we made the decision to get out through the window.”

Very soon after, we couldn’t stay in the safe room anymore. The smoke was suffocating us and we made the decision to get out through the window. Otherwise, we would die from smoke inhalation. The time was 12:45. Yakir jumped out first, checked that there was no terrorist movement in the area, then pulled everyone out, one after the other. I got out last and the smoke was so thick that I couldn’t jump and get out. Yakir grabbed me and pulled me quickly out of the window. 


We stood next to the window of the safe room for about 3 seconds, and then Yakir decided to run to the migunit [small, doorless concrete shelter] in the playground behind our house, about 100 meters from us. We ran quickly and quietly so they wouldn’t catch us. Yakir and I didn’t take our cellphones, but the kids did, which allowed us to contact people and let them know where we were. Staying in the migunit was nerve wracking, with shooting in the background and the fear that the terrorists would find us or come there to hide. 


There was a strong smell of smoke and Yakir stood at the entrance, tense, crying with pain from his wound, praying that someone would finally come to rescue us. The children cried quietly, afraid that something would happen to Yakir. Amit whispered in my ear, “Mom, I hope my friends are okay.” After about 4 hours, forces came to rescue us. 

We had been without food and water since the previous evening, inhaling smoke, the stress and tension had wiped us out. 


“We had been without food and water since the previous evening, inhaling smoke, the stress and tension had wiped us out. 

”They [the security forces] took us from there to a collection point for our whole neighborhood. There I met up with my mother and her husband, my sister and her family. I didn’t believe that my mother and Baruch would manage to fight them off.

I saw our neighborhood burned, everyone crying and shocked by the horror we had endured, not believing that we had survived. They took us to the operations room and on the way, I saw the ruined kibbutz. They had destroyed it.


“They took us to the operations room and on the way, I saw the ruined kibbutz. They had destroyed it.”     

When we met up with people from different neighborhoods and I started to hear that people had been kidnapped and murdered. I couldn't believe what I heard, couldn’t understand the magnitude of the disaster that had struck us. They took Yakir to Soroka Hospital and they took us to the children’s house on the kibbutz. I couldn’t believe that we had to stay on the kibbutz after everything we had been through. I wanted to run away. 


“I felt awful, vomited, and the whole night had the most horrible nausea, afraid of what we didn’t know, worried about friends who weren’t there with us.”

I felt awful, vomited, and the whole night had the most horrible nausea, afraid of what we didn’t know, and worried about friends who weren’t there with us. They decided to evacuate us to Eilat. We were barefoot, with clothes stained with Mika's and Yakir’s blood, exhausted and tired. I went to the second-hand store that was in front of the children's house. I got shoes for myself, and the children got shoes from our neighbor. 


When we arrived in Eilat we met Yakir, and a load lifted from my heart, the feeling of security came back. Three friends from work were waiting for me with clothes and some other basic things, so I could take a shower. My feelings towards the country and the army are difficult; they abandoned us, that’s indisputable. But I have decided not to focus on them.


Our house was completely burned down. We need to open a new chapter in our lives, somewhere else, and restore ourselves, the children and Mika, who survived thanks to a kind officer who took her to Beit Dagan (a veterinary hospital). I am looking at the glass half full that is left to us. 




Rotem C.


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