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HomeNewsAsiaDaniel's story: ‘Hell broke out in our kibbutz. We want peace’

Daniel’s story: ‘Hell broke out in our kibbutz. We want peace’

The testimony of a resident of Nir Yitzhak Kibbutz that was attacked by Hamas on 7 October and his hope for peace: “Hamas is not all Palestinians; many want to live in peace.”

By Vatican News

“On Saturday, while we were sleeping, at 6:30, we woke up to the sound of the sirens and iron dome missiles. Immediately, as always when this happens, we rushed into our safe room; my wife, I, my children, and even our two dogs, to wait for it to pass. I thought it would be as usual, that once the silence returned, we could go out after a few minutes… But this time was different from the usual because of the number of missiles we heard.”

Daniel Lanternari, 48 years old, originally from Rome, recalls the terrible morning of October 7th, the day of the attack by the radical Hamas group on Israel. Daniel was in the kibbutz of Nir Yitzhak, near the Gaza Strip, where he resides with his wife and three children aged 15, 12, and 9. He tells Vatican News about the horror he experienced three weeks ago.

Daniel, can you tell us about your experience on October 7th?

We heard the sirens and locked ourselves in the safe room, where we stayed for several hours. From our friends, we learned that there had been infiltrations in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, and we thought it was localized there. When things calmed down a bit, I took my oldest son to the bathroom, and from the window, I saw about fifteen terrorists entering from the kibbutz’s entrance, not from the direction of the Gaza Strip. No one expected the terrorists to arrive in cars; we thought they would come on foot from the direction of the Strip. Instead, they entered right through the kibbutz gate where my house is located… I just watched them because I couldn’t believe it was real. Only when they began drilling into our houses and shooting with Kalashnikovs, did I snap out of the movie I was watching. So, we immediately ran back into our safe room, locked everything, including the metal window and door, so that no one could enter. We immediately warned our friends next door to close everything. My neighbor, alone with her two-year-old twins, was saved because the terrorists arrived at our houses right away and started shooting. They even threw a hand grenade into her bedroom. They also tried to open our metal window. I comforted my children, telling them that everything was okay, that we were in our safe room, but inside, I was frozen. I knew that if I had opened the window, it would have been the end. I knew from chat messages that the terrorists were out there, but I never expected so many in our kibbutz and others.

So, your family is safe?

My wife, children, and I were fortunately unharmed. After 1-2 hours, the terrorists also entered our house and started stealing everything, but we don’t care about that. While they were inside the house, another group of terrorists entered the house behind ours, and we heard screams. Now we know that they captured all five members of that family. We were saved, but we don’t know how… They knocked on the door, and if they had wanted, they could have entered. Once I finally left after 12-13 hours when the soldiers arrived, I found bullet shells outside the house and even rockets on the terrace. If they had used one against the door of our safe room, nothing would have stopped them. They would have entered and done what they unfortunately did in other places.

Tell us something about your kibbutz?

In Nir Yitzhak, there are approximately 580 people. Compared to other kibbutzim, we were “lucky.” We lost four people who have already been identified. Eight others were captured. I do however know what others have suffered.

Are you in a safe place now?

Like other communities near the Gaza Strip, we were evacuated to places far from our homes. Now there is no danger, of course, but it’s a long road ahead. The children experience, on and off, the loss of their classmates, playmates, volleyball, or soccer buddies, and that their teachers are no longer there. So, yes, we have survived, but the psychological aspect is yet to be treated, especially for our children.

Tell us about life in the kibbutz before the attack?

The Kibbutzim are very small communities, mostly agricultural. Even though we are in the desert, we have fields of potatoes, carrots, peanuts, cotton, citrus, and so on. We have cows for milk, and we raise chickens. So, it’s a very different life compared to the city. When the children leave our house, they are within an extended family. For them, it’s freedom, riding bikes, swimming, visiting the kibbutz zoo, going to the fields to pick potatoes. Some people work inside the kibbutz, and others work outside. The philosophy has changed a bit over time, but we still have many things in common: we share vehicle, for example –  those without a car can use a kibbutz car; there’s a communal dining hall, and during holidays, those in need receive more than they can give. So, we take care of each other, and it’s a much more relaxed way of life.

Let’s say that we consider our reality our paradise: 95% of the time, we live in paradise, but there’s 5% that is this hell. Usually, the hell is the missile attacks, but this time, a line was crossed. Not that missiles are an acceptable thing, but let’s say we had become accustomed to them; we know how to defend ourselves. This time was different.

I imagine you’re praying for the release of the hostages and for peace?

Peace is the best thing for everyone on both sides. If there were peace, we would be well, and the Palestinians would be well too because there are Palestinians who want peace, who want to live in peace. Hamas is not the Palestinians, and the Palestinians are not Hamas. There are Palestinians who want to live like us. In fact, when Hamas entered, they didn’t only kill Jews, but also Bedouins because they kill those who are different from them.

What is your hope?

I would like Europe to really understand who we are dealing with. There are no words to explain what happened. Talking to those who don’t want to talk… is a bit difficult.”

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