My story is a difficult one. I keep remembering more and more details. My children and husband were elsewhere, and I hid alone when terrorists broke into my home. I heard them trying to get into my house and reported to the family Whatsapp group that they were starting to come in. Within a minute, I could hear them inside.
I heard their voices laughing and tried to think of what I could do if they came into my shelter – I did not know you had to hold the door handle up. And that was it; they were there in a flash, staring back at me.
There were two of them. One spoke English, and the other spoke Arabic. I speak a bit of Arabic. They said, “Do not worry, we will not hurt you”, I begged them to leave me, and they said, “Come, come”; I was only wearing a robe and pajamas. Then they said, ‘Come with us, do not worry, we only want a car. Do you have a car?”.
“They immediately tied me up tightly, with my hands behind my back”
I told them I do not have a car, I explained that it’s a kibbutz and the kibbutz has a lot of cars, “A hundred cars.” I said, “I need to take you to the cupboard where the car keys are kept.” I explained that I needed to get dressed. They let me get dressed and put on my shoes, they checked every few seconds to make sure I was not taking out a weapon, and then they allowed me to take my bag. They led me outside, and we simply walked around the kibbutz.
They were speaking to me, asking, “Do you have children? Do you have a husband?” We reached the main road, and I saw a soldier from far away. They said, “That is one of ours,” then the soldier yelled to me in Hebrew, “Come, come”. I showed him that I could not, that they were armed next to me, and that one of them was holding onto my hand.
Then shooting started in our direction. They grabbed me by the hand and started running. They were not trying to fight back, just took me with them. I was trying to convince them they were going in the wrong direction – because they were running west with me, which would not be good for me. I yelled, “Where are you taking me?” and they would not answer me. They were speaking with their people on the radio, yelling and confused. They did not know where to run.
“I was afraid that if he ran, they would shoot him”
After several moments of confusion, I was taken to the home of an elderly woman from the kibbutz; a Filipino woman who cared for her was also there – as well as more terrorists. There were people there who were much more organized and tough. They would not talk, had rules, were dressed as soldiers in uniform, and were heavily armed.
They immediately tied me up tightly, with my hands behind my back, and sat me down, trying to cover my legs because I was not dressed well. Some time passed, and they kept trying to silence the elderly woman because she could not understand what was happening and kept asking questions, forgetting that they had already told her to be quiet.
Then I heard a child screaming, “Daddy, Daddy”. Someone came with a two-year-old boy; he held him by the hand while the boy was hanging in midair and tossed him at us. The child was screaming, asking for his Dad, and trying to escape, but they would not let him. The Filipino woman, tied up with her hands in front of her, tried to hold him still, but he ran away from her, screaming, “Daddy, Daddy.” I tried to ask who his Daddy was, attempting to distract him because I was afraid that if he ran, they would shoot him. The child starts talking to me and explaining who his dad is.
“She told me they had shot her husband, and that her baby girl is dead”
Another 7- or 8-year-old boy arrived with his mother; I recognized them. She was covered in bullet wounds, her entire shirt was covered in blood, and she was shaking and barely walking. They brought her in and threw her on the balcony next to me when she told me they had shot her husband, and that her baby girl is dead. I asked her how she could know that. Perhaps the baby is not dead. She said, “They shot her in the head”.
I could not hug her because our hands were tied. I put my head on her and just cried with her, and they silenced us. They walked to the elderly woman’s dresser and brought the mother a shirt so she could change. But she could not do it; she could not breathe because of her injuries. She made me swear, “Adi, I will not survive; please keep my children safe.”
I told her everything would be okay. The older boy asked, “Mom, what will they do to us?” and she said, “They are going to kill us.” I was trying to tell them something else. The man who brought the mom here approached me and said, “I need you. If you do what I tell you, it will be okay. They did not do what I told them; they tried to run, so I shot them.”
I understood that he would simply kill me if I did not do as he said. He took me to the road and said, “You see that car? I want you to take our dead out of it. There are friends of mine in there who are dead”. I walked to the car with my hands up because I did not know if IDF soldiers could see me, and suddenly there was shooting again. He ran to me and grabbed my hand, running with me and his friends, all running in the same direction, telling me, “Run, Run. Yajri (Arabic for ‘run’)”.
“The soldiers around me fought, and four of them were injured in front of my eyes”
I was taken to another house where more terrorists were located. The house was completely burnt, and there were a lot of guns on the ground. I saw an RPG, a burning armored vehicle, and bodies by the house. They wanted me to go into the house, but it was burnt and hot; I could not go in. I saw a shed at the house’s entrance and went into it – and I saw many people fighting there, in the small shed. They allowed me to go deep inside.
They were shooting, there was a strong smell of gunpowder, and shrapnel was flying at me. I protected my head with a binder I found. At a certain point, I saw packages of diapers in the shed and padded my hiding spot. I was sitting there, making myself small, and more terrorists kept coming in. Every once in a while, when someone would look at me strangely, I would say, “Your friends brought me.”
Slowly there were fewer people, the gunfire decreased, and there was less shouting in Arabic. Then, I do not know how long passed, but I heard Hebrew from far away. The terrorists went through the house, into the backyard, and ran away.
I realized that Israeli soldiers might see movement from the shed and think it was a terrorist, so I called out to them and yelled, “Soldiers!”, and I heard someone say, “There’s a woman here. There’s an Israeli civilian here”, and then the shooting started again.
I heard very well-organized teams arriving, they approached, and I yelled again, “Soldiers, Soldiers!”. Their commander approached me and asked, “What happened here?”. I said that there were a lot of terrorists and showed him the direction where they went. He sent a team to check the house, and then they tried to move along with me. The battle was not over yet. They told me, “You are going to be with us now, we are here with you and we are guarding you”. We tried to move forward but were met with heavy fire. We all got down on the ground, and they decided not to proceed. They turned back to a yard with a lot of shrubbery and partnered me up with someone at all times.
They were angels. Each time, someone told me his name and that he was there to keep me safe, that I was with him, that everything would be okay, that they would get me out. I said, “Leave me, leave me here in the bushes, do what you need to do, and do not think about me; you do not need me to weigh you down.” They said, “Of course not, this is why we came. We are here, we are with you”.
The soldiers around me fought, and four of them were injured in front of my eyes. They were brought to the middle of the yard, and medics cared for them, applying tourniquets. I heard that the commanding officer was wounded, and then the Sergeant told his soldiers, “Listen, he is injured, but we are still a team. I am your commander now, and you do anything I say”, and they answered, “We do anything you say.” They fought hard, and he said, “We will guard the civilians here, we will get them out, this is what we signed up for, we will keep going with everything we have.”
Evacuation of the kibbutz was done under constant fire. At some point, we had to lie on the ground and hide behind a car, and they continued fighting. It was impossible to move, but they fought vigorously and truly gave it everything they had.
Everyone keeps asking where the IDF was, I am not the type to analyze, but the IDF soldiers fought bravely; their kindness to me was indescribable. The soldiers managed to get me and the wounded out of the kibbutz. What happened to me is simply a miracle, and I still do not know what happened to that woman and her two children.”