I’ll begin from the end: I am at home, thank God.
I don’t know how to even start recounting the story of the darkest day in my life. I finished my shift [on the base] at 4 am, went to bed at 5 am, and woke up at 6:20 am to the sound of a missile landing next to my room. I rushed to the shelter, the deafening noise ringing in my ears. A phone call came in, urgently informing me: “Alin, there’s a raid in the entire sector. You must get to the operations room now.”
“There is a raid,” are the words that any Gaza border region observer dreads. We had prepared for this moment since the start of our service, but nothing could have prepared us for the stark reality.
I asked one of the girls to fetch my phone, which I had thrown outside the operations room. She returned it to me, stained with blood.
We sprinted towards the operations room. It was the most terrifying run of my life, as if our lives depended on it – because they did. We arrived at the operations room in our pajamas, our hearts pounding, determined to protect the State of Israel, our base, the citizens, and the soldiers. We cowered behind lockers, trembling with fear. I lost count of how many times I nearly passed out from the stress, and my friend had to support me, offering water to soothe my nerves.
We hid behind lockers, stands, and drawers, anything to avoid being seen by a potential terrorist if they entered. Time dragged on, and more wounded soldiers came into the operations room. My friends applied tourniquets because there was no one else left to help; they were all outside. We heard gunfire and explosions but couldn’t fathom what was happening beyond those walls. Some soldiers went out and never returned. Some returned injured. Those who remained, focused on protecting us.
Throughout all of this, we couldn’t help but think of our families and how they must be feeling. I asked one of the girls to fetch my phone, which I had thrown outside the operations room. She returned it to me, stained with blood. We had no choice but to use it to call our homes, as it was the only phone with reception. So we passed it around to everyone, trying to reassure our parents that we were safe, all while masking our fear.
We reached a point where there were only seven of us, with a power outage, a single phone, no water, air conditioning, light, or toilets. The fire alarm had gone off, one of the doors that shielded us had opened, and three soldiers stood in the middle of the camp, weapons ready in case a terrorist found us.
We reached a point where there were only seven of us, with a power outage, a single phone, no water, air conditioning, light, or toilets. The fire alarm had gone off, and one of the doors that shielded us had opened. Three soldiers stood in the middle of the camp, weapons ready in case a terrorist found us. Behind them lay wounded, bleeding comrades, while terrorists still roamed the base.
We recited prayers and “Shema Israel” at any given moment, feeling like we were trapped in the worst possible movie, desperately waiting for it to end so we could return home unharmed. We begged for reinforcements, waiting anxiously as we heard that more of our fellow soldiers were gone. There was nothing we could do but wait.
Then, suddenly, we heard the reinforcements arrive. Shots echoed across the entire base, and we couldn’t tell if it was a terrorist or a fellow soldier. By this point, it was already night, and we had been helpless since 6:30 in the morning, enduring harrowing experiences and hearing things that no one should ever have to witness or go through.
Finally, the reinforcements secured the entire base, and it was our turn. An angelic figure appeared, promising to lead us to safety. We waited a few more agonizing hours, filled with hope that we would emerge from this ordeal alive.
Leaving the base was the most nerve-wracking walk of my life. I closed my eyes, avoiding looking at the chaos within the base, terrified of witnessing our loved ones perish. All I wanted was to reach the bus and find safety, another base where we could receive protection and care after enduring those grueling hours.
I’ll spare you the rest of the horrors and experiences, as there are some things better left unknown and unheard.
I’ll say this to those who wonder where we were – we fought relentlessly, with all our strength, for every individual, every soldier, and for our own lives. Some things were beyond our control, and no one has the right to criticize young women aged 18, 19, and 20 who fought for their lives, their friends, and the entire base. I am proud of myself, my commanders, my friends, and my officer, who gave their all to ensure the best possible outcome.