The Iron Lions

Testimonials from the war in israel, Oct 23'

Einav Mor Maoz

Nahal Oz

The first time I went to Nahal Oz, when Amir and I first started dating back in 2016, I asked Amir if the nearby lights were a neighborhood in Sderot. Amir laughed and told me it was Sajeya [in Gaza].

The second time I went to Nahal Oz, I saw unexplained lights above me and was sure a missile had been fired at me. Later on, and after a hysterical drive to Amir’s house, I found out it was a surveillance measure.

Gradually I developed a love affair with this place – the amazing quiet, the people walking along the pathways, and the sense of family. When my parents worried and told me they weren't willing to lose me because of some other mortar shell – especially after enduring the oncology ward with me, I reassured them and said the army and the state protect us. Because it's unthinkable that a kibbutz located so close to the border fence isn't being protected with a million eyes.

And then came that terrible Saturday, which shattered all the walls of security and trust I had placed in this state.

At six thirty in the morning, we woke up to a seemingly routine red alert siren. Soon after, a massive rocket barrage began, and Amir and his sister – who have lived in the kibbutz for years – said they never experienced anything close to it.

At that stage the phone network was still working, and we received all kinds of warnings about an infiltration in Sderot and about some party in Re’im. I thought to myself it was far away and my concerns at that stage were whether the shelter really protected us.

And then gunfire started. Bursts upon bursts of gunfire from outside the house. At the same time, Amir's father told us he heard screams in Arabic outside the house and that terrorists were barricading themselves in the nearby house. The shelter window wasn't locked and neither was the door, and Amir stood with a knife for hours holding the shelter’s door handle, and we lay on the floor in the dark trying to calm each other in whispers.

At that stage I spoke hysterically with reporter Nir Dvori, trying to glean bits of information. Dvori, who knew the chaos outside was huge, gave us vague answers indicating the army still hadn't reached us.

When we realized the army had arrived (the Maglan unit – angels in the form of men), whenever we heard noises outside the window we hysterically sent messages to anyone possible to send forces to sweep the house. I don't know if that happened due to the scale of the disaster that became clear afterwards.

At three thirty that afternoon, we heard the house being broken into. We didn't know if it was terrorists or the army until they told us to say the Shema prayer. Amir prepared the knife and we decided to open up. The amazing soldiers from the Maglan unit said they swept the house and everything would be okay. At that moment a gun battle broke out inside the house. We went back to barricading ourselves in the shelter and the soldiers waged a brave battle against the terrorists.

We stayed in the shelter for hours more. Every so often we would hear shuffling outside the window. We sent a stream of messages to anyone possible to come check but some didn't arrive because the phone network went down.

At eight thirty that night, Amir's father wrote to us saying they were evacuating him and would try to get us out too. Another three hours passed. It was 11:30pm and they still didn't arrive – we were starting to lose hope. In hindsight we understood that Amir's father insisted the rescue forces save us.

I will never forget the faces of the Givati reconnaissance reservists. They told us it was over and we could come out of the shelter, escorting us to the kibbutz gathering point while gunfire and explosions could still be heard in the background – we couldn't believe this was happening.

I am devastated and angry. I can't sleep, certainly not in the dark and definitely not alone. I startle from every small noise and compulsively ensure my house is locked. I can't be alone and my mom sticks to me. I'm saddened by the scale of loss and think what a miracle we had and why this happened to us.

Right now I'm not able to deal with it, but I'm angry at this state that abandoned the Gaza Envelope residents for years despite repeated calls. I'm angry about the demonstrative ignoring of the warnings there. I'm angry at this worthless prime minister who dares confuse people on irrelevant things when entire families were destroyed by his fault.

In memory of all the Gaza Envelope residents murdered in cold and intolerably cruel blood, when all they wanted was to lead normal lives.

In memory of all the soldiers who protected us with their bodies and thanks to whom we are here today.