At 06:30 am we wake up to the red alert siren.
I move Ori from our bed and we run with Goldi, my partner, to the safe room. Phones in hand.
Avigal and Yotam are still sleeping. They wake up when I slam the metal window above their heads. Avigal asks what is going on. I don’t remember what we said. Minuted pass. They start shooting outside the house and messages in the village’s WhatsApp group describes what’s happening: “They’re here”, “shots in the village”, “I hear Arabic under my window”.
Somewhere among all this, we understood that we have to lock the door of the safe room. But how?! Sometimes Yotam closes the door all the way and it’s easy to open the door from the outside. We put Disney movies on for our kids.
All that is left is to hold the door’s handle, as tightly as possible.
Outside we hear explosions and bursts of gunfire, bullets hitting metal. A neighbor writes that they’re burning his house and the baby can’t breathe. I hear Arabic outside. Noises and commotions. Ori loses his patience. Screams that he wants to leave.
We can’t, ‘the door breaks and we call Grandpa to come with his tools to open the door for us’ – we lied to him, to them.
And I’m holding it, holding the handle as if it’s my lifeline to life. “Atllah!” I hear from outside and understand that there are at least two or three people in the house.
Sweating, in underwear, I sit on the children’s costume box, grasping the door handle, and they’re trying to open the door. Goldi, I whisper to her, they’re here!!! Goldi, they’re trying to open the door! And Goldi won’t stop talking with Ori, and writing to the village’s security team. In the end she writes in the group that whoever can, come help. And no one comes. Avigal needs to pee, Goldi gives her a box of toys, there you go, here. But she won’t do it.
Within less than an hour, the electricity falls. Darkness in the room. No AC. No fan. The hours go by. And again, footsteps in the house. Maybe the IDF?? They try to open the door to the safe room again. I’m sweating, the safe room is boiling, in underwear, smelly and grasping the handle like crazy. I peed on my knees while holding the door shut. Goldi’s phone is close to dying. We find a toy flashlight to light up the room and save battery on her phone. Avigal and Yotam watch 4 full lengthed movies (Frozen 1 and 2, Aladdin and one more) on my phone. We hear muffled screams from outside. The battery in Goldi’s phone goes out. We agree that up until 5% charge on my phone, the children can continue watching episodes.
Ori fell asleep crying that he wants to leave the safe room. Slept maybe two or three hours. 4% left, and the nightmare isn’t over. Shots again. And the village’s WhatsApp groups are chaotic. Again they come. They come at least 5 times, I press my ear against the door since they wrote that there are already soldiers walking around, cleansing the area and rescuing people. Hebrew? Hebrew!!! I don’t believe it. They call my name. Who is it? I yelled. IDF, are you Eldad? How many are with you in the room? Five. Open the door. We opened it. How are you? I don’t know what to answer.
The neighbor comes to our house in a wheelchair with her guardian angel, who saved her when they broke into her safe room and she bribed the terrorists with money. Hadas yells, answer the phone! Is everything okay? We went through the same thing, we’re all safe here, what about you? And again we hear shots around 15 meters from the house. We run to the safe room. Is it over? Come quickly to the gym. Terrified, the house in ruins. We put flip-flops on and leave with the children in our arms. Crying. The gym is locked. Pregnant women, a baby, his parents who were almost burned alive, children, an elderly woman in a wheelchair.
A neighbor whose husband and daughter were murdered in front of her a few minutes earlier. Stand in front of the locked building, minutes go by and we don’t know what and who and where? It’s decided – we’re going to the cafeteria. More families join us on the way. Children. Terrified parents. Is there a secure area in the cafeteria? Asked a soldier.
Nothing, we answered, and the children are crying. Sit on the floor, next to the walls, they said we push tables against the windows. We flipped more tables on top of them, we supported them with chairs. We have to go to the recreational building, we said, only it has a real secure area. The security squad checked and came back and said now, half the group run as fast as you can to the recreational building with us. I’ll look that way, you look the other way.
Thats how we arrived, a scattered group of people running to the recreational building.
To the secured area.
More and more people joined and the room was filled with people.
Not only the safe room, we opened another door to expand the secured area we can be in. While sweating, people collect water from a stopped-up sewer so that we can continue living in the secure area. And they bring food from the bodega. And leftovers from the holiday the village celebrated the night before.
At night we slept in Ori’s kindergarten. What a kindergarten!! At noon, Goldi went to organize things at home, when we were instructed to. Cars were either burned or shattered. Many things were stolen or vandalized. A neighbor and his daughter were murdered. Other neighbors are missing, and we left the village. Destruction all the way to Ofakim.
Nir Oz still going up in flames. Burned cars along the whole way. Tank marks on the roads. Only after we pass Be’er Sheva we take a deep breath. Broken.
October 7th-8th, 2023, 22nd and 23rd of Tishrei, Simchat Torah and Isru chag.