SDEROT, Israel (NewsNation) — Sirens wailing while Hamas rockets fill the air have become a familiar sound for residents in southern Israel since the war started when Hamas militants killed more than 1,400 people and took more than 200 hostages.
On Oct. 7, Gitit Botera assumed she heard rockets outside, but when she heard gunshots and witnessed her street turn into a war zone, it revealed a different reality.
“I took my baby and I told my baby, ‘Shhh! Be quiet,’ and I turned off the light and we sat on the floor. I went to the kitchen and grabbed a knife and the whole time all you hear is the shooting. The whole time we stayed in the safe room, and we pray,” she recalled.
Surveillance footage captured the moment Hamas infiltrated Sderot. A truck, loaded with terrorists, shot the first passing car they saw, killing the driver. Then, they fired an RPG at the police station and killed the drivers of a red SUV and a black SUV.
It took a few minutes for police to reach the cars to search for survivors. Inside the black SUV, they found two young children orphaned after their mother was shot in front of them. Officer Ronen Gabai rescued the children and brought them to safety.
Gabai, who was also seen saving an injured policeman in a cellphone video, expressed fear of showering alone after the attack.
“It’s hard for me to explain what I felt. I wasn’t afraid. When I replay in my mind everything, I went through that day it’s like I’m Rambo, but I’m not. At the end of the day, I go home, and I’m scared to death, and I have to deal with it,” he said.
Gripped by fear, nearly all 30,000 residents have fled. The scars of the attack linger, with the downtown police station extensively damaged by rockets, and eventually had to be taken down.
“I don’t have the power to cry. I cry a lot. I have friends missing. I have friends murdered,” Botera said.
Botera has been in Tel Aviv for the past few weeks. Although she loves Sderot, she doesn’t feel safe and is unsure if she ever will again.
“I want to come back because this is my country and we try to make resilience again, but I don’t know, something broke,” Botera said.
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Author: Robert Sherman