After nine days, and countless questions from friends to share how we managed to get out, I decided to put our story in writing.
Saturday morning, KUMTA app starts beeping. I didn’t even get a chance to tell Yakir (my husband), when the code red alert went off in full blast.
As usual, we didn’t panic, and went to check on the children. Before we took the little one to the boys’ room which is the house’s safe room, we thought it might be a single siren and maybe there’s no need.
It’s 6:30 am, and the sirens don’t stop. We decided to take the children into the safe room, and not take any chances. There are knocks on the door, (it is) my neighbor who is out of breath, as she is alone at home with three children. Yakir lets her in, calms her, and in the meantime I run to her house to be with her children and calm them down, until she calms down herself and comes back to her children, and I go back to mine.
I go outside and joke around with the neighbors about this insane situation, when suddenly we hear non stop bursts of gunshots. One of my neighbors shouts that there is an infiltration of terrorists. I still joke and say ‘surely not here in Sderot’, and they have a lot to go through to get to Sderot. I’m sure these ‘Ninja Turtles’ will be noticed if they decide to infiltrate and they will get killed. But that wasn’t the case. They were in a neighborhood, just next to my neighborhood. They came in, about five jeeps of ‘Ninja Turtles’, in each jeep 7 – 10 terrorists, shooting indiscriminately in every direction. Not to take any chances (we live in an apartment on the ground floor with a backyard) we go up to our neighbor on the fifth floor. She is an amazing neighbor, who hosted the five of us and another family of four inside a three bedroom apartment with so much patience, sensitivity and love. I will be grateful to her for the rest of my life.
The shooting doesn’t stop. Security forces, army, anyone… No one comes, there are only bursts of shooting and sirens and an attempt to keep sane and calm for the children. Only towards 4 pm (security) forces start arriving. A lot of background noises, and an immense inner fear – just to get out of this horror alive. At the same time, we hear about the horrors in the Kibbutzim and we receive messages from the city council to stay indoors and lock everything up, to keep quiet and stay away from the front door. In addition to all the stress, friends from Nir Itzhak send us a message, saying that terrorists are in their house, and saying their goodbyes. The pressure and worries are intense, as I try to keep in touch with them and make sure they are still alive. Towards the evening, a tank arrives. Yes, a tank! And Apache helicopters above our heads.
Night arrived, and it was not a peaceful one. Shooting, sirens and heavy smoke all over town.
He says, “There are still a ton of terrorists walking around”. I reply, “Oh, and we should just wait for them with coffee and cigarettes?
On Sunday, after a sleepless night, after 24 hours with no appetite, I decided I’m not leaving the children in this horror and that we are leaving. It’s about 12:00 pm and Yakir said, “are you sure we should leave?”, with a trembling voice I shout, “Yes, now!!!!!”. He says, “There are still a ton of terrorists walking around”, I reply, “Oh, and we should just wait for them with coffee and cigarettes? We’re leaving now. There are a lot of army forces in town, they (the terrorists) are probably hiding. This is the time (to leave).” He replies, “The roads are full of bodies, blood, and perforated cars”. I yell, “Now!”. We pack pretty much nothing, a suitcase full of nothing, put the kids in the car, and brief them – except for breathing, you’re pretty much not allowed to do anything.
We leave, and there is a siren. Yakir decides to stop by a wall, and the rocket hits the road across from us. He asks me again, “Sure we should go?”, I reply, “Now!”, and brief Yakir. “I don’t care who or what is standing in our way, run over anything, just drive, drive, drive!”.
I don’t stop saying Shma Israel. Minutes of fear that I have never felt. I pray to god that we manage to get out alive. We are able to drive through inner neighborhoods of the town, seeing sites one can see only in movies. We got out of town and onto the 232 road, and i’m breathless and thank god that we managed and saved the children.