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Israeli General Burst Into Hamas-Captured Kibbutz To Save His Son's Family

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Israeli General Burst Into Hamas-Captured Kibbutz To Save His Son's Family
NOAM TIBON

This story sounds like an action movie plot.

However, this happened in Israel in our days. On October 7, retired IDF General Noam Tibon learned that his son, journalist Amir Tibon, and his entire family were trapped in Kibbutz Nahal Oz. The family locked themselves in a shelter room in their home, which was surrounded by Hamas militants.

62-year-old Tibon jumped into a car and rushed from Tel Aviv towards Nahal Oz. An experienced commander, he first helped a group of soldiers cope with the enemy and then joined the special forces who cleared Nahal Oz. Noam Tibon fought his way to his family and saved them and several other people.

Amir Tibon calls his father a hero. He wrote an article for Haaretz news publisher about what his family experienced that day. The Detaly website provides its translation.

We always had dreams. But we woke up in a nightmare on October 7. After several hours in the bomb shelter room in silence and darkness, while armed terrorists roamed outside, at 16:00 we heard a knock on the window.

“This is grandpa,” said my little daughter. We all burst into tears.

It all started with a whistle. Around six in the morning, the familiar sound woke Miri, my wife - it was the whistle of a mortar shell when spent.

There was no advance warning, but the sound was enough to send us running to our bomb shelter room. It serves as a bedroom for our two young daughters here at Kibbutz Nahal Oz, the closest place in Israel to the Gaza Strip.

Three-year-old Galia and one-year-old Carmel were sleeping in their beds, resting after yesterday's fabulous walk in the Israeli region of Otef-Aza [the strip bordering the Gaza Strip - the Detaly Ed.]. We call this beautiful part of the country home.

We didn't want to wake them up, but we started packing our things. We thought it would be another one of those days that we are so used to. We will sit in the bomb shelter during the shelling, and then we will go north to safety.

The Worst Nightmare in My Whole Life

Then we heard the creepy sounds of machine gun fire for the first time after an hour of continuous sirens and explosions. At first, it was heard from afar, from the fields. Then the sound became much closer, it was coming from the road. Finally, we heard machine gun fire right near our house.

We also heard screams in Arabic and immediately knew what was happening: it was our worst nightmare. Armed Hamas militants burst into our kibbutz and were literally standing on the doorstep, while we were locked inside with our two little girls.

Miri and I moved to Nahal Oz nine years ago, immediately after the 2014 Gaza war. What brought us here was a sense of adventure, a desire for community life and some old-fashioned Zionism. A kibbutz on the border with the Gaza Strip was a non-trivial choice for a young Tel Aviv couple. However, our parents were proud of our decision, and Nahal Oz became our home.

We got married here in 2016. The wedding took place in a swimming pool just a few hundred meters from the border fence. We came back to this place after three years in the USA.

Over the years in Nahal Oz, we heard the Tzeva Adom [The Red Color - an early-warning radar system Ed.] alert countless number of times, faced the threat of incendiary balloons, and inhaled the smoke of burning fields. But this did not make us forget about the wonderful advantages of living on a kibbutz. Our little girls went to kindergarten on their own and then bought ice cream at the store. As for us, we always had dreams. But now we are faced with a completely different kind of threat.

When we moved to the kibbutz, the scariest word in our vocabulary was “tunnel”. But because the government had invested billions of shekels in an underground barrier wall to keep out Hamas tunnels, we slept peacefully.

This Saturday morning we suddenly realized that we were in the middle of a disaster on the scale of the Yom Kippur War. The underground wall turned out to be the Maginot Line of our generation. Israel poured tons of concrete into the ground, and Hamas simply broke through the above-ground fence with tractors.

The Dark World

Blackout came first. The whole world went dark. We lit up our cell phones and read WhatsApp messages from our neighbours. The terrorists moved freely around, breaking into houses.

They shot at our houses, explosions woke our little girls. We explained to them that we needed to be quiet, lie in bed and wait. To our surprise, they remained patiently silent in the darkness.

There was no food or flashlight in our bomb shelter room. Residents of Northern Israel, if you are reading this, I ask you to be well prepared for the possibility of a similar scenario on the Lebanese border.

We were coming out of cell service. I reported the situation to my parents when it was possible, as well as to my colleagues Amos Harel and Yaniv Kubovich, military observers at Haaretz.

I wanted to inform the military about what was happening in Nahal Oz. However, the news I received from the outside made me realize the seriousness of our situation. What happened here in Nahal Oz happened simultaneously in many kibbutzim, cities and military bases. We realized that help would not come soon.

Meanwhile, shots were constantly ringing outside our locked window. We had no idea what was going on in our kibbutz and couldn't even see each other in the dark.

My little girls turned out to be real heroines. They sat in complete silence, without food, and waited. From time to time they quietly asked us to open the door and let us play in the living room. We patiently explained to them that this was impossible due to the dangers outside.

We didn't even know if the terrorists had broken into our house. Suddenly we heard the sounds of a drone overhead and loud explosions. We prayed that it was Israeli aircraft attacking terrorists, but we could not know for sure.

One text message we received gave us hope: my father, General (Ret.) Noam Tibon wrote that he was coming to us from Tel Aviv.

[“My son Amir called from Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the morning. He said that he and his family were surrounded by Hamas militants. Three minutes later I was in the car. Gali, my wife, also managed to jump in, I knew that I could not dissuade her, so “I didn’t waste time. After all, she is a military wife, she doesn’t panic and knows how to provide first aid,” Noam Tibon said in an interview with Israeli media. – the Detaly Ed.].

We had no idea how he would get here. But we believed in him. It wasn't until later in the evening that I heard what he and my mom went through that day, how many people they helped save, and the heroism they showed during their journey here.

Their first stop was Kibbutz Mefalsim, where they saw bodies lying on the ground and cars on fire. Suddenly, several young people who had escaped the massacre appeared near their car. My parents put them in the car, drove them out and dropped them off at some place further north, then turned around and headed back to Nahal Oz.

My father encountered a group of IDF soldiers standing in the middle of the road along the way, seemingly awaiting instructions. They had no contact with their commanders. As my father later said, it was a scene of complete chaos and confusion. One of the soldiers agreed to join his father and go with him to Nahal Oz. Mom remained in Mefalsim.

At the entrance to the kibbutz, they saw Hamas militants attacking IDF commandos. My father and the soldier who joined him got out of the car and helped the military eliminate the terrorists. They then took the two wounded soldiers into the car and drove back to Mefalsim.

There my parents decided to split up. My mom took the wounded soldiers to the hospital in Ashkelon, and my father headed again towards Nahal Oz [at some point, Noam Tibon took the weapon and helmet of one of the evacuated wounded and broke through to his relatives with this gear. - the Detaly Ed.].

Another retired general joined him, the one who put on his uniform and voluntarily went south to try to save the people.

So, two retired military officers, both over 60 years old, were heading into a war zone to try to save us and other families.

They met other IDF forces on the way to Nahal Oz. The troops divided the area among themselves for reconnaissance and clearing. My father joined a special forces group that moved from house to house. They killed six terrorists and freed dozens of the inhabitants who had been locked in their bomb shelters for ten hours.

Some of our neighbours were shocked to see “Amir’s dad” among the soldiers who came to save them. They texted us saying my dad was there. But by that time our phones were dead.

The only sign that they were coming for us was shots fired every time they encountered terrorists.

The last hour in the shelter was the hardest. It was stuffy there, the darkness was oppressive, and the girls were increasingly worried. The only thing that calmed them down was our assurance that their grandfather was already nearby.

At 16:00 we heard a knock on the window, and then a familiar voice. Galia immediately said: “This is grandfather.” For the first time in the morning we all burst into tears.

(“The elite force of paratroopers moved from house to house and cleared out the terrorists. It was an honor to fight with them shoulder to shoulder,” Tibon said. “We killed the terrorists who were around [my son’s] house and waited for the evacuation. I also helped other friends in Nahal Oz." - Note from "Details").

In the next hours, our house became a field headquarters. Soldiers came and went, bringing wounded neighbors, families whose homes had been broken into, and elderly people who did not want to be left alone.

But the moments of joy were short-lived. As more and more families came to our house, we learned about the atrocities that happened that day. About the dead, wounded and missing. The full severity of the disaster soon became apparent. Outside the house we saw the corpses of five terrorists, one of whom was still holding a grenade launcher. It turned out that death was even closer than we thought.

That evening, while cooking dinner for 12 kids with one of our neighbours, we still didn't quite understand it all. The complete shock came in the middle of the night, when we were already sitting in an evacuation bus that took us far from the border with the Gaza Strip.

Nahal Oz has become a symbol of heroism since the early days of the State of Israel. It was simply a beloved home for us. We shared it with those we love. On Thursday, two days before this tragedy, we even hosted friends from the central region of the country. They were fascinated by the beauty of these places.

But something went wrong in this war. The terms of the agreement between us and the state have always been clear: we protect the border, and the state protects us.

We heroically fulfilled our part of the deal.

The State of Israel failed to do its part for many of our beloved friends and neighbours on this dark day of October 7.

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