The Iron Lions

Testimonials from the war in israel, Oct 23'

Naomi Hirshfeld

Kfar Aza

"7.10 - Testimony from Kfar Gaza

06:30 on Saturday morning.

Very heavy barrages in the area. Kob and I jump out of bed and run to the kitchen window, seeing an unusual amount of exits, surprised. We hear a strange, different sound nearby - snipers? It is not clear.

Kob starts making coffee.

Ok, we started another round [of rockets]; that's what we thought. Oh how wrong we were.

Looking out the window, a white van stops at the entrance to the neighborhood. Ten terrorists or more, dressed in black, with black masks and weapons, unload from the van and split up - five running on the grass towards our house, five running towards our beloved neighbor's house.

Still not understanding, I ask Kob: “What is this?” Kob doesn't understand what he's seeing either.


I write in the community WhatsApp group: ""There are a bunch of people in black in the neighborhood, running with guns and shooting.""

Someone answers: “These are our soldiers.” Another wrote: “Get in your safe rooms.”

The terrorists are a stone's throw from the house. I see the white kerchief tied around their heads: Hamas.

They’re yelling, “Itabah El Yehud (murder the Jews), Allahu Akbar (god is great)!”

We run to the safe room. Someone writes, “Terrorist infiltration!” Someone answers not to stress for nothing.

These were two minutes that we still lived in an illusion, that we didn't understand anything, still with innocence and unimaginable naivete…

Life as we knew it is no more. Very quickly, WhatsApp is filled with calls for help from every area of the kibbutz:

- “They are shooting at the house!”

- “They are here!”

- “They are at my house, please help!!”

- “Heavy shooting at my house.”

- “For me, too.”

- “They’re breaking into us!!!! Help please!!!”


A report is received that there is an injured person near the building complex requiring urgent rescue. I send a message to some members of the emergency squad: “Wounded nearby - need assistance urgently!”

- “They’re trying to open the safe room, please help!”

- “Hold the handle tight!”

- “Please reach my parents!”

- “Has someone seen/heard from Gila Peled? Her family is worried!"" (Later, we learn they were murdered in cold blood.)

- Tamar Kotz, Aviv's mother, writes: “There’s no communication from Aviv and his family, looking for help to check in with them.” (Later, we learn they were murdered in cold blood.)

Someone explains how to do an artery occlusion. Someone is begging, “Check what's up with my parents!”

Long long hours pass in all the WhatsApp groups - calls for help, pleas, locations, directing forces.

Ofir, Israel and my grandson, Itai, are in another apartment. In another is my Inbar and his partner Adi. My Oriyan is under the bed in our safe room.

We hear shooting in the neighborhood, non-stop - up close and from afar. I hear screams of a wounded man close to my home… and then quiet.


Inbar writes, “Urgent! We need rescue! They are with us! Please!”

And that's it. We are then completely disconnected from Inbar. The connection is now cut off with the kibbutz’s Dor Tza’ir neighborhood.

I’m writing to Emily (a classmate of Inbar's): No answer.

Itai screams; Ofir is begging to be rescued. I am helpless. Kob patrols the house.

A terrorist with a mag walks down the path of the house. The blinds are closed and the doors are locked.

Silence. Don't breathe. They are here.

Shots fired at the house, from all directions. The windows shatter. Inbar does not answer.

The Duvdevan unit arrives at the kibbutz. I think, “OK. That's it, it's over.” It is not. This holocaust, this massacre, this heavy disaster that I don't even begin to understand - it is not over.

More troops, more elite units are coming to the kibbutz: Maglan, Duvdevan, Paratroopers, Givati. More reports of injuries. More pleas for an urgent rescue. More…more and more…

Time passes. And all that goes through my mind is this:

My Inbar and Adi are no longer…

That they won’t get to Ophir and Israel; only with me will Itai stop crying.

Let's just hold on, hope that they don't kill me; because who will take care of those who remain?

And hope that they don't kill Kob; because who will be my anchor?

Don't let Oriyan be killed; because I will die of sorrow.

As long as night doesn’t fall, it will end. Our army is strong.


They are here again. The house is surrounded. Heavy firing on the house. Shouting in Arabic. Oriyan is under the bed. I release my bowels from fear. Kob is my hero - he’s trying to take apart the safe room door handle from the outside. But locking us from the inside doesn't work.

I see how our lives are running out of time.


Thank God - Israel, Ofir and Itai have been rescued; I’m holding on to hope.


Terrorists on the roof. I write in the WhatsApp groups: ""We have movement on the roof - they are trying to break in!” We hear strong blows on the walls, from all directions. Strong blows on the roof. A few minutes later, a Givati force comes towards us, exchanging fire.

There are loud knocks on the door. Kob says: “Is this IDF?” We're trying to listen through the safe room door; the sound is not familiar. Is it soldiers? Or terrorists trying to enter? They break a window, shattering glass. They are at the door; they call, “IDF! IDF!”

Kob says in a whisper: “I'm opening.” I say: “No, it's terrorists, don't open it.” Kob makes a decision - he opens the door that was closed for 18 hours.

We see soldiers in front of our eyes; it’s hard to believe.

We have two minutes to grab our most important things. We get into a Hummer. They cover us from every direction. We go through the gate, arriving at Elonit. More of our people are there.

I can't breathe, I burst into tears. Someone hugs me. A soldier gives us a drink.

My legs can't support me. I'm shaking, sitting on the sidewalk.

The most terrible nightmare…"