“Terrible new life”: a survivor of the October 7 kibbutz massacre wants to ensure safety before returning home

A former Israeli soldier who survived the October 7 attack by Hamas on his community believes that the Israeli government must do more to improve the security of the community and recover the people taken hostage by the terrorist group.

Naor Packiarz and his family have lived in Kibbutz Be'eri since 2000, where he and his wife, Adi, raised their four children: Nir (17), Shachar (15), Maayan (10) and Ella (8).

Like many other Israeli men, Packiarz previously served in the military for three years as part of Israel's conscription policy. Now in the reserves, he has served as the marketing manager for Be'eri Printing for the past three years.

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Kibbutz Be'eri was one of the Israeli communities Hamas militants attacked during its October 7 attack that resulted in the deaths of at least 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the abduction of more than 240 individuals.

Packiarz told The Christian Post in an interview on Friday that the day before the attack, the family held a party to celebrate the anniversary of Kibbutz Be'eri, founded on October 6, 1946. Therefore, many of the family's friends were in the area on that day. He also told CP that October 7 was Maayan's 10th birthday.

Early in the morning, Packiarz and his family heard missiles and alarms going off, which did not seem abnormal since most Israeli citizens are used to these types of attacks coming from Gaza. The family retreated to the safe room, but Packiarz decided to go to the porch to see what was going on.

At times, the father said he could hear people shouting in Hebrew and other voices responding in Arabic, as well as the sound of gunfire near his home.

“So, I understood then that it's not just something happening from Gaza,” Packiarz said. “It happened inside the kibbutz.”

The father went in and out of the safe room, and as an ex-soldier, he couldn't stay. From his porch, he could see that Hamas militants had set fire to the house of one of his friends, although the friend happened to be in Cyprus with his family at the time.

According to Packiarz, members of the kibbutz community tried to stay in touch with each other during the attack through applications such as WhatsApp. Packiarz said he and his family sheltered in the safe room for at least 20 hours, and during the attack, his wife was talking to her sister on the phone.

Hamas militants set fire to the home of Packiarz's sister-in-law, which was also located in Kibbutz Be'eri. Although the militants tried to break in, the sister-in-law and her family were saved by the arrival of the Israeli military. According to Packiarz, the first force of the Israeli army did not arrive until 9:30 am the next morning.

Throughout the day, Packiarz continued to receive messages from kibbutz members about people who had been killed or had their homes destroyed.

Packiarz said he and his family tried to stay in touch with his wife's father, but they eventually lost contact with him.

“We understood that if we get out of this, we will have a terrible new life or a different kind of life because something very bad is happening,” said the member of Kibbutz Be'eri.

Around 2 am on Sunday, a group of Israelis who heard what was happening in the kibbutz came and rescued Packiarz and his family. An 11-member squad at the kibbutz, which the father noted was not part of the Israeli army, also worked to rescue people during the attack.

According to Packiarz, the October 7 attack showed community members that they had to “defend [themselves] and don't wait for someone to come to the rescue [them].”

Israel responded to the Hamas attack by launching an offensive in Gaza with the stated goal of eliminating Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, and securing the release of the hostages. recent reports suggested that more than one third of the Israeli hostages still in captivity may have died. The Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health reports that around 35,000 people have died since the start of the war. These figures do not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths.

Packiarz and his family have been living in a hotel near the Dead Sea since the attack, which is where many members of his community also live. After attending the funeral of a friend killed by Hamas a few days after the attack, Packiarz learned that his father-in-law had also been murdered.

Despite the loss, Packiarz and other members of Kibbutz Be'eri's printing office began work on October 8 to restore the company's operations, noting that the printing press is the 'heart' of the community.” The employees of the company resumed work on October 10, and Israeli president Isaac Herzog rededicated the printing office during an October visit to the kibbutz.

“We knew that rebuilding the kibbutz could take time, and it could be a few years before people could go back to the kibbutz,” he said. “But if we want our members to have the option to return, then we have to repair and treat the heart of the kibbutz, which is our printing press.”

This week, Packiarz met with lawmakers in Washington, including Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to discuss efforts to rescue the individuals still held captive by Hamas. Packiarz said the Israeli government talks about how it wants to wipe out the terrorist group and rescue the hostages, but he thinks it should prioritize the hostages.

He also stated that he would not return to Kibbutz Be'eri if the Israeli government could not ensure the safety of its members.

“We're not going to go back to sleep with an M16 under the pillow,” Packiarz said. “We will only go back if we feel our children can walk around the kibbutz and feel safe.”

Source: www.christianpost.com

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