“We thought we were in the safest place in the world. But after 6 a.m., the gates of hell opened. An RPG was firing upon us, and I became terrified as nothing was going to prepare me for the sights I was about to see.”
Those were the words of Ofer Kisin, an Israeli survivor of the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack, speaking at a Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia reception at the Kaiserman JCC in Wynnewood Sunday.
Some 1,200 Israelis were killed by Hamas terrorists in the attack, which also featured mass rape and mutilation of victims. In addition, terrorists kidnapped around 240 people, including Americans, and took them into Gaza as hostages. Hamas still holds 137 captives.
Ofer and Rony Kisin of Kerem Shalom told attendees they were celebrating the Simchat Torah holiday before the massacre.
Shani Teshuva of Kibbutz Zikim also shared her story. Teshuva said a 10-minute delay saved her life along with the strength of her children while living under constant rocket barrage.
“We felt really safe the night before as my 12-year-old daughter went out skateboarding with her friends, and on that morning, I went for a bike ride,” Teshuva said. “At 6:29 the next day, there was a rainfall of rockets. My husband and I got our kids and went into the safe room, where we all covered our kids on the floor. This went on all day as we were fighting for our lives.”
Later, as debris continued to fall, a cyberattack occurred. It resulted in all communication going out. Teshuva’s husband went to the emergency center, and the emergency team told him to check on people door-to-door while also checking on his family.
Teshuva’s narrative captured the community’s adversities in the attack’s aftermath and the uncertain situation.
“Everybody is afraid because we didn’t think this would happen again. Right now, we’re fighting for survival and bringing hostages back home,” Teshuva stated. “My family and I are currently evacuated and have no idea when we will return. We can’t make any important decisions on what’s next while we’re displaced.”
Hila Fakliro was a bartender at the Supernova music festival when Hamas terrorists attacked. Several hundred festival goers, mostly in their 20s and 30s, were enjoying the festival when terrorists began shooting them. The militants surrounded the revelers using motorcycles, trucks, and paragliders.
Chillingly, Fakliro heard terrorists laughing and singing while slaughtering innocent festival attendees.
“Around 6:30, my bar manager told another bartender and me to take cover as we were listening to the rockets go off for 45-50 minutes,” Fakliro said. “We then decided to go to my car, but something told me to leave the car as there was a massive traffic jam for people trying to escape.”
After hearing loud crying, Fakliro ran for about nine miles. She found a farm community and hid there for around five hours. She eventually made her way back to her apartment after hiding.
“I was panicked because if I wasn’t in my car, I had a feeling I was going to be dead,” Fakliro said. “I’m so thankful I’m alive and can share my story.”
“We don’t hate Muslims or any specific group of people. We hate Hamas, and they are a terrorist organization that wants us killed,” Rony Kisin said.
As for Fakliro, she hopes Hamas is finally defeated soon so she can return to her everyday life and continue to fulfill her dreams.
“I eventually want to get married and have children, but I unfortunately don’t feel safe bringing them into this world right now, given everything that’s going on,” Fakliro said.
While the survivors adapt to their current situation, they remain grateful for their visit to America and the opportunity to share their perspectives.
“After this trip, we will be going home with warm hearts and eternal gratitude for our time to tell our stories,” Teshuva said.