The Iron Lions

Testimonials from the war in israel, Oct 23'

Nikita Somrov

Nahal Oz

My name is Nikita, I'm 29 years old and have lived in the kibbutz since 2001 with my family (who immigrated from Russia).

On the horrible morning of Saturday, I was at home with my wife Sara (27) and our kid Aviv (4.5).

The event started exactly at 6:30 with the red alarm sound.

I was in the kibbutz in all the past wars and battles and yet I don't remember such a massive attack on our homes. The rockets just did not stop falling on us. Even though we have the iron dome, when 100+ rockets get shot at the same time, most of them will still hit the ground.

We ran to our son's room which is the safe room of the house. I took him from his bed to sit on the ground because the metal plate that is supposed to protect the window was open and I did not have enough time to shut it.

After 10 intense minutes there was 30 seconds of silence and I ran to shut the metal plate on the window. The rockets stopped after about 10 minutes, but we didn't know that the worst was yet to come. At 6:45, while we were still in the safe room, the sound of light guns (AK-47) started to appear in the air. They were way too close to us, usually we hear sounds like this but they are very dimmed because they come from Gaza. But this time it was different, I knew it was coming from within the kibbutz.

I called my parents and let them know about it so they can lock themselves in their safe room. At around 7AM, the sounds of guns shooting started to get even closer and more massive. Videos of terrorists in the city of Sderot started to appear in different Whatsapp groups and then we started to realize that something horrifying is happening to our country and to our homes.

We were sitting in our safe room and holding the handle of the door upwards because it was the only way we could've locked it. The door could be opened easily from the outside of the room. I knew I had to take all the safety measures possible to prevent my family from getting hurt. I went out of the room, sprinting to every window and door in the house, locking it and shutting down the blinds. I also grabbed a snack for Aviv and a cup of water. That was all he consumed until we got rescued.

Messages in the kibbutz Whatsapp ground starting coming one after the other: “I hear Arabic screams outside my window, someone is trying to open my door, I have terrorists inside my house, please send soldiers asap, please they have been here for 10 minutes and are trying to break into our safe room. Send help, save us please!!!”

All these messages that came one after the other of people begging for their life were horrific.

We tried not to show our kid any fear, we did not cry, we did not break down, just so he feels a little safe in this situation.

A message from my mom came in the Whatsapp group. She said that she sees terrorists in their living room. She begged for help. At that stage, we had to put Aviv in the closet, and told him that there were bad guys outside so we need to be quiet, and if they come we will close the closet doors on him and he could not make any noise no matter what he hears. This was us accepting our coming death.

In my parents’ house there are 2 safe rooms, my mom and dad were in one, and my younger brother (18) was in the other. 

I told them that I loved them while recognizing the fact that they are going to be murdered.

This was at 12:30.

My brother was at a party close to our kibbutz and we talked with him since 10AM. I also accepted the fact that he is dead. 

At 12:35 the cellular reception fell down and we lost our contact with the outside world.

All that we knew now was what we heard from outside. The only thing we heard was shootings and grenade explosions that did not stop for a second.

Me and my wife took turns to guard the door handle by holding it up, knowing that this was our last line of defense. We tried to keep our kid entertained as much as we could so he wouldn’t sense our fear and emotions.

At 4:45 we started to hear people yelling outside our safe room while continuing the heavy shooting. We slightly opened our window to hear what language it was. It was Hebrew! We finally heard our army and it was close to us. At 5PM, we heard that someone was trying to break the blinds in our living room. I called Sara to join me to hold the handle knowing that our end is coming, Aviv was inside the bed. After a whole minute we heard "tzaal tzaal tzaal" which is the name of our army, and we knew that they are here to save us and it was them who were trying to break my window to get us out.

I opened the window metal plate and I saw the face of a blonde officer that told us they are here and they are saving us.

The sound of shooting was still heard all throughout the kibbutz, the soldiers safely took us to our neighbor’s house where they concentrated several families from the neighborhood. We were surrounded by soldiers and for the first time since 6:30 felt safe.

The cellular reception was finally back and I called my parents as soon as I could. My mom answered and told me that everyone was alive. The terrorists were injured and just looked for stuff to stop their bleeding. My middle brother also contacted us and let us know that he survived by hiding in a bush for 9 hours with his girlfriend. Everyone who tried to run away got shot dead.

At around midnight we were told that we are being evacuated from the kibbutz ASAP. With nothing in our hands we walked to the kibbutz gate surrounded by 40 soldiers that were forming a 360 circle around us pointing their guns out. While we were walking to the bus, 100+ missiles were fired into Israel non stop. We finally got to the bus that was waiting for us. We fit 90 people into a 55-person bus. I was sitting on the floor. Near the driver was my friend, holding a heavy fire gun, ready to act if needed. After 45 minutes of driving we finally got to an army base where we were greeted with water and food. From there we went to a kibbutz in the north that invited us to stay when there was war.

During the drive, the feelings were very hard. We heard about families with kids that got killed in their safe rooms, and families with kids that were taken to Gaza ..the feelings were just horrible but all we could think of was the fact that we were alive.