Haaretz journalist Amir Tibon moved with his wife Miri to the pastoral Kibbutz Nahal Oz, right on the Gaza border, after the 2014 Israel-Gaza war.
The couple, then without children, wanted to support the small community, Tibon told The Atlantic. They fell in love with the place and stayed. A year ago, they bought a house there.
On the morning of October 7, the sounds of falling mortars drove the couple into the reinforced “safe room” in which daughters Galia, 3.5, and Carmel, 1.5, were sleeping.
They were used to the mortars coming from the nearby Gaza Strip, but not to the gunfire that came closer and closer until it was at their window, Tibon later recalled.
An Arabic speaker, Tibon was able to immediately understand what was happening when he heard Hamas terrorists outside his home.
Around 20 terrorists infiltrated the small community that day, while hundreds of others fanned out into other Gaza border communities to kill, maim, burn, and torture. Some 1,400 people were massacred, including babies and entire families.
Sheltering in the safe room, trying to keep his young children quiet, Tibon was able to call Haaretz’s military correspondent Amos Harel, who explained that the terrorists were not just in Nahal Oz, but had invaded communities up and down the Gaza border.
“I understood the situation. I prepared to die,” Tibon recalled.
Then he called his father, Noam, 61, a retired IDF general.
His parents immediately jumped into their car in Tel Aviv and headed south.
At Kibbutz Mefalsim, his father, armed only with a pistol, left the family car and caught a ride with a soldier. While driving along, the two of them came across a firefight between a Hamas cell and soldiers from the elite commando unit, Maglan.
Three Maglan soldiers fell in that fight, among them Maj. Chen Buchris, 26, the deputy commander. Tibon grabbed Buchris’s weapon and helmet and entered the fray.
The terrorists were eliminated, but two of the Israeli soldiers were wounded.
Tibon drove them to his wife, who took them to the hospital in the couple’s car, and again turned south, on foot, spotting another retired general, Israel Ziv.
Ziv, 66, like another former general, Yair Golan, had also driven down south to do what he could to help.
On the spot, he answered Noam Tibon’s call for help, and drove the two of them in his car to the entrance to Kibbutz Nahal Oz, dropped Tibon off, and continued to Kibbutz Be’eri — site of one of that day’s worst massacres — and onwards to the area of the Supernova party that had turned into a field of blood.
This is an amazing story, and fortunately one that has a happy ending. Noam Tibon, pictured, retired IDF general, age…
At Nahal Oz, Tibon quickly joined the kibbutz defense team and several units of special forces.
Covering for one another, the soldiers started going from house to house to check for terrorists and to let those locked into their shelters know that the IDF had arrived.
Amir Tibon was still barricaded in the safe room with his family. There was no electricity, and the cell phones had run out of battery.
But when he started hearing a different kind of gunfire, he said he knew his father had arrived
At 4 p.m., 10 hours after they had entered the reinforced room, the family heard a bang on the window and then Noam Tibon’s voice, at which point Galia broke her silence to announce that their grandad had arrived.
“That was the first time we cried,” Amir Tibon said.
The survivors were evacuated Saturday night to Kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek in northern Israel. Amir Tibon and his family are now with his parents in Tel Aviv.
Among the more than 200 people Hamas took hostage that day was a family of five from the kibbutz — two parents and three children.
Those murdered on the kibbutz included Yaniv Zohar, 54, a photographer for the Israel Hayom newspaper. He was killed along with his wife, Yasmin, his two daughters Keshet and Tehelet, and Yasmin’s father, Haim Livne. Only their 13-year-old son survived — he had gone for an early-morning run.
Lt. Eden Nimri, 22, a swimmer who competed internationally for Israel and served as a commander in the Artillery Corps’ drone unit, was also killed that day on the kibbutz while fighting Hamas terrorists.