Along with more than 600 murdered, and more than 2,000 wounded, Israelis — the figures as of the morning of October 8 — there are the many thousands of traumatized family members who survived, having endured the terror of hiding in safe rooms where they could hear the terrorists shooting right outside their bunkers, possibly murdering their neighbors, and trying to smash in the doors of their own safe rooms in order to kill whomever was inside. They could smell the smoke coming from their own house burning; the Hamas terrorists had set it on fire as they did to so many purely civilian structures. And in the hope that Hamas would finally conclude that their bunker was empty, a couple remained inside for 12 hours, keeping absolutely silent.
Here is the account of their ordeal: “British-Israeli man describes terrifying ordeal as Hamas militants stormed home,” by Ollie Cooper, Sky News, October 8, 2023
A British-Israeli citizen and his wife have told of their 12 hour ordeal locked in a bomb-proof room as Hamas militants set their house on fire and gunfights erupted around them.
At times, they were just inches from the militants and were forced to stay put as Hamas fighters engaged Israeli Defence Force (IDF) troops for hours with no water and no food, stuck in the pyjamas they were wearing when they woke up.
Ben, who did not wish to give his second name, shared his terrifying ordeal with Sky News from an evacuation point near the Dead Sea.`
Originally from Worcestershire, Ben and his wife have lived in a kibbutz named Be’eri, located around 5km from the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, for the past 26 years….
Ben woke up to sounds of rockets being fired, something he said was “not unusual”, and was met outside by his neighbou]rs, who – like him – were in their pajamas.
“We assumed it would be over soon, but it wasn’t,” he said.
He watched the Iron Dome system intercept a number of rockets, before receiving a text message telling all those in the area to lock themselves in their safe rooms.
The safe room, like many in the area, is a small 5x4sqm room with gas and blast-proofing on the door, which cannot be opened from outside when shut….
Ben estimates 30 Hamas militants were in his kibbutz, and the speed and scale of the attack took the neighbourhood by surprise.
“We were so underprepared for such an unprecedented attack, and we didn’t have water, food, anything [in the safe room],” he said.
Ben and his wife were laying silent on the floor of the room when they heard a commotion outside his house and more shouting – before hearing a “tremendous boom” as his front door was knocked in.
“They were a few centimetres, a few inches away from me as I’m holding the door,” he said….
Very soon afterwards, we could hear crackling and we could begin to smell smoke,” he said.
Becoming emotional, he said “we understood that our home was on fire.”
Ben and his wife listened as their house fell apart around them, with the roof caving in and more windows shattering from the heat.
The door, which is built to prevent a gas attack, had its seal melted away – allowing thick smoke to enter the safe room.
“It was so hot, it was so unbelievably hot,” Ben said, “I don’t know how we didn’t pass out.”
He described how the pair of them lay on the floor with bedsheets from their son’s bed covering their mouths to block out the smoke.
“We managed to breathe every now and again through a crack in our blinds,” he said.
After hours in what he called “hell”, Ben and his wife heard Israeli forces arrive and engage the Hamas fighters…
After hours of fighting, Ben said he and his wife took heart after “the shouting turned from Arabic to Hebrew”, and IDF soldiers began going house to house in the neighborhood evacuating survivors of the attack.
Soldiers were able to pull the pair through the window of the safe room once opened by Ben, as the house on the other side of door was presumably too unstable to escape through given the fire damage….
When asked what he will do now, Ben said he didn’t know if he could stay in the country after the ordeal, given the presumed damage to his home and the wider kibbutz.
“A big part of me wants to leave Israel, even though we’ve lived here for 26 years.”
“It’s our home,” he said, “and all that’s gone”.
Ben and his wife were among the lucky ones. They weren’t murdered. But the terrifying ordeal, and the recognition that their safety could no longer be guaranteed, have left him so traumatized that, even after spending the last 26 years in Israel, now “a big part of him wants to leave” the Jewish state. Ben is hardly alone in harboring such sentiments, and the IDF has to restore the Israeli people’s sense of security in the only way now possible: not by “retaliating” against Hamas, but by destroying Hamas — utterly.