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“We feel like we’ve been abandoned,” say survivors of Hamas attacks

Photo: Gil Cohen-Magen Agence France-Presse An Israeli army soldier stands in front of a damaged house in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, near the Gaza Strip.

Zacharie Goudreault

March 12, 2024

  • Middle East

Two survivors of the October 7 attacks in Israel criticize the army's long delay in coming to the aid of citizens attacked that day by Hamas militants in villages in the northern Gaza Strip, the territory Palestinian who has since been shelled by the Israeli army.

It was around 6:30 a.m. on the morning of October 7 when Rotem Holin, 45, was awakened by the sound of rockets flying over Kfar Aza, a kibbutz of nearly 800 inhabitants located a few kilometers from the Gaza Strip. In the hours that followed, Hamas militants killed more than fifty people there, in addition to taking several residents of the village hostage.

When she heard gunshots coming from outside, the mother rushed to lower the curtains on the windows of her home and locked herself and her two children in a “safe room” ( safe room), told the Devoir on Monday about the Israeli woman, who was passing through Montreal to a few days, in the company of Batia Holin, a 71-year-old lady who lives in the same kibbutz.

In a conversation on the WhatsApp messaging system, residents of the neighborhood then began to describe the horror occurring in this neighborhood, where several civilians were killed and houses burned. “People wrote: “Where is the army? Why is no one here to help us?” But they received no response,” recalls Rotem Holin.

Then, around noon that day, Hamas militants broke down the door of her house, before entering the room where the mother and her two children were. “I stood in front of them, there were six of them, and I told them I had two children with me,” Ms. Holin said. The activists then searched his home, his phone and his car before leaving the scene.

“We now know that we were to be taken to Gaza as hostages, but my car was broken at the time and they had no other vehicle to transport us,” says Rotem Holin, who has since lived with his children in a room in a hotel located in another kibbutz in southern Israel.

30 hours wait

The Israeli woman says she lost access to running water a few hours after the attack, and that she and her children had to relieve themselves in “plastic bags” while waiting to be rescued by the Israeli army. However, soldiers did not arrive on the scene until midday the next day to transport the mother and her children to safety, approximately 30 hours after the start of Hamas attacks in Israel. The country's army is nevertheless considered one of the “best in the world”, says Batia Holin with bitterness.

“We have the impression that we were abandoned and we don't know why it took so long [before the army came to our aid], also deplores Rotem Holin, who attributes to the government of Benjamin Netanyahu this long delay. This is one of our disappointments. »

On October 7, attacks by the militant group left around 1,200 people dead, according to the Israeli government. Of the approximately 200 Israelis taken hostage, 99 are still believed to be in the hands of Hamas. The army is bombing from the Gaza Strip, where more than 31,100 people have died so far, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

To the deadly violence is added a famine which is increasingly worrying the United Nations, at a time when humanitarian aid is struggling to be delivered to residents. Meanwhile, negotiations for a truce in the conflict in Gaza are failing, with Israel and Hamas struggling to agree on its terms.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116