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A Survivor Remembers  

Hadas Eilon and her 15-year-old daughter looked forward to a fun weekend at the family kibbutz in southern Israel. The communal farm—a small town of 900–was just three miles east of Gaza. This was the place, the home where Hadas grew up.

A red alert sounded on Saturday morning, October 7, so Hadas, her brother, mother, daughter, and niece piled into their concrete-reinforced safe room. That's when texts from their neighbors brought news of the unthinkable.

Terrorists had invaded Israel and entered their kibbutz. Designed to withstand rockets, not enemy troops, the safe rooms in these homes had no locks.

Soon came the sounds. Shouting in Arabic… gunfire...a grenade tossed at their window. Then came the pounding on their safe room door. Hadas had nothing but a steak knife to defend herself should their grip on the door handle fail.

At this point, Hadas's 15-year-old daughter hid under the bed, thinking that if the terrorists did make it in, she stood a slight chance of going undetected and might be able to rescue others.

The struggle was fierce, but the family managed to hang on to the door, and the terrorists left. For a time.

Tucked away in that safe room were five people. Five people with no electricity, no air conditioning, and no communication with the outside world as phone batteries died.

When IDF soldiers made a brief appearance, Hadas's family was allowed to get water and use the restroom. But they immediately returned to the safe room because the soldiers could not stay.

Hamas returned. More pounding and struggling with the door. More gunshots. They left. Inside the saferoom, the family lit candles, which soon died out for lack of oxygen.

Throughout a 35-hour nightmare, Hamas tried three times to break into the safe room. When a larger group of soldiers finally rescued the family, the home was severely shot up. Blood was on every bed. Sheets and towels had been used for tourniquets. IDF soldiers had knocked out kitchen windows for gun placement.

A terrorist remained hidden in the home, so a column of IDF soldiers formed a shield so the family could dive into an armored vehicle. Only later did Hadas learn that her brother, who had been fighting the terrorists, was shot and killed.

To hear this story in person as I did leaves your mouth dry. I asked Hadas about her plan for sharing this ordeal with the broader world.

Her answer: "Right now, I must be among friends. So, now that you have heard my story, I am asking YOU to be an ambassador. YOU tell the story."

Next time somebody tries to downplay the horror of October 7, tell them you have a story you need to share. Tell them about Hadas.

Rescue the weak and needy; Save them from the hand of the wicked. 

—Psalm 82:4

 

 

 

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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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