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Incredible Odyssey to Rescue Son and Family

Aerial shot of Nahal Oz. Credit: Kibbutz Nahal Oz

Text & photos: Lydia Aisenberg 

Retired IDF Major General Noam Tibon

On the morning of October 7, in Nahal Oz, the sounds of falling mortars drove Amir Tibon, Diplomatic Correspondent of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, and his wife Miri into the reinforced safe room in which their daughters Galia, 3 years old, and Carmel, 18 months old, 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, Amir later recalled.

An Arabic speaker, Amir was able to immediately understand what was happening when he heard Hamas terrorists outside his home.

Sheltering in the safe room, trying to keep his young children quiet, Amir 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," Amir recalled.

Then he called his father, Noam, 61, a retired IDF major general. His parents immediately jumped into their car in Tel Aviv and headed south.

The WhatsApp message from Amir to Noam was the beginning of an incredible odyssey worthy of a Hollywood movie, after Noam and Galia made the decision to drive from Tel Aviv to help their family in Nahal Oz.

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 Major 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 major 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.

At Nahal Oz, Noam 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 pm, 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.

Around 20 terrorists infiltrated the small community of Nahal Oz 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.

Among the more than 200 people Hamas took hostage that day was a family of five from the kibbutz — two parents and three children.

"Nahal Oz would have fared a lot worse had it not been for the sheer bravery of their own members who formed the kibbutz home guard, the Maglan commandos and other soldiers that were in the area," stated Noam Tibon emphatically.

"Around 3,000 terrorists took part in this horrendous attack, the brutality of which I have never seen the likes of, not in any terrorist act, nor in the wars with Lebanon or anywhere else."

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.



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