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

  • Victoria T.'s story

When he comes back and I see the knife, I understand

Psychologists say it's good to share in order to gain control back to your life. We were helpless for so long, with someone else holding the control over us.


At 6:29 am we wake up to a red alert Siren. We close the window of the safe room. I immediately grab my phone and check the news. Did something happen throughout the night? What did we do in order to receive rockets? But no info.

Silence.


"Shootings of light weapons. Not rockets, not mortar bombs. Simply guns, from every direction. "


I tell Nadav that this doesn’t make sense. These rocket barrages don’t make sense. It’s never like this. A few minutes go by and I turn on the TV in the room.

My hero Nadav, my wonderful dog Nucha, and me, a six months pregnant woman, are sitting in the safe room. The barrages are non-stop.

And then we start hearing gunfire. Until today, we had never heard gunfire like this. Shootings of light weapons. Not rockets, not mortar bombs. Simply guns, from every direction.


Text messages start flooding in from the kibbutz’s groups. Texts that I didn’t see at first, but Nadav did. My Hero. He tells me “Get dressed, i’ll be back in a second” and leaves the safe room.

He runs off to bring a knife from the kitchen. When he comes back and I see the knife, I understand…


"It is a group of six terrorists, coming towards our house. They didn’t run, they weren’t in any hurry. They walked, laughed, yelled, just next to our window."


We hear yelling outside. My hero ran over to the window of the safe room and cracked it open. He was sure these were our soldiers. It is a group of six terrorists, coming towards our house. They didn’t run, they weren’t in any hurry. They walked, laughed, yelled, just next to our window.

Nadav looked at me. And his look, his look said it all. A look I will never forget. That will follow me until my last day.


He runs to the door of the safe room and holds it shut. I turn off the lights and the TV. I sit on the floor. Holding Nucha. So scared that she will start barking. And it was as if she knew, she just lay down next to me, quietly and did not move.

I am on the phone with my brother, we aren’t speaking too much, just breathing. It calms me down knowing there is someone on the line. And my hero is still standing and holding the door. And we are there for two hours or more, we have no sense of time. Meanwhile, the text messages from the kibbutz’s groups. They are indescribable, the biggest nightmare one can ever imagine. People begging for help. Begging to be rescued. “There are terrorists in the house and we are locked in the safe room”. “They’re burning our house down and we’re stuck in the safe room”. “They’re trying to open the window to the safe room” and it continues.


"We direct (our forces) towards the people whose houses are burning… but in the meantime all those people who texted about burning houses are no longer seen active”


It took so long for our forces to arrive, it felt like forever. Slowly, military contacts join the kibbutz’s WhatsApp groups and ask us for information, who is hearing Arabic, where are the terrorists located and ask us to send our locations. We direct them towards the people whose houses are burning, order our forces to go where they are needed most, but in the meantime all those people who texted about burning houses are no longer seen active. We can only hope that their batteries ran out.


My hero remembered that the camera in the living room is still on. The camera we bought to check up on Nucha when we weren’t home. Who would have thought we would use it for something else entirely. He turns on the motion sensor, that way, when someone moves in the living room, he gets an alert on his phone. He told me this in retrospect. But I could tell that he was suddenly breathing a bit. He moves the big dresser up against the door, under the handle, so that it would be impossible to open. And only then he releases the handle.


In the background, there are non-stop sounds of gunfire. Gunfire and screams. Exchange of fire between our forces and the terrorists. And again shooting. Shooting at our house, at the window of the safe room. Just non-stop shooting. And we lay like that, on the floor, for 17 hours straight. In the dark. With no water, no food, no air.


"Some of them could hear knocking on their doors and windows, and voices yelling out in Hebrew to open the door, but these were the terrorists- those bastards knew how to shout out “IDF!” in Hebrew."


All this time text messages in the groups continue to flow. People begging to be rescued. Some of them could hear knocking on their doors and windows, and voices yelling out in Hebrew to open the door, but these were the terrorists- those bastards knew how to shout out “IDF!” in Hebrew.

I was texting with my next-door neighbor and she was trying to calm me down. The neighbors who saved us. Luckily, the terrorists didn’t go into our house, or theirs. I have no idea why they skipped our house. We will never know. But it was just luck. A lot of luck.


At 9:30 pm, we suddenly hear someone knocking on our door. We don’t open it. We don’t move. We don’t breathe.

And then the neighbor texted that our soldiers are here, that they’re at their house and that we should open the door to our house. My hero runs out of the safe room, knife in hand, and I hear him yell and ask the soldiers questions. Making sure these are indeed our soldiers. And only when he was sure, he opened the door.


Nadav then runs to me and tells me to come out, we’re leaving. I take my bag, where we keep our passports, and I shove our wallets inside. He grabs Nucha and we leave the house. Just as we are, with nothing.


They gather us all in four houses, belonging to the younger families, so that it would be easier for them to protect us. We are there for a few hours, until we are told we can leave. How do we leave the kibbutz? By foot… Soldiers escort us out by foot until we reach the gas station at the entrance of the kibbutz. We call it - the Death March.

We then wait for a bus to pick us up from the gas station. We have no idea where it will take us. Just away from here. We start driving and then they tell us they are taking us to Hodaya. And we are so happy since it is close to Ashkelon, where our families live.


I’ll spare you the horrors we saw on the way. There are enough videos you can find on the web.

This was a brief, very brief, recollection of what happened. 17 hours on the floor of the safe room, in the dark, in fear, without speaking.

The definition of a Holocaust. People who weren’t there, will never understand.


Victoria T.

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