Veterans recall what happened in Israel on the day of the attack.

NDTV Exclusive: Ex-soldier recalls what happened in Israel on the day of the attack.

Rami Zakh lives about 5 km away from Masjid al-Aqsa.

New Delhi:

Rami Zakh, a former employee of the Israeli consulate in Mumbai, was shocked when the sirens went off in Jerusalem on Saturday morning. Not completely unfamiliar with distress signals or emergencies, thanks to where he lived, but even he was a little surprised because terrorists rarely attack the Holy City.

Just as Mr. Zakh was beginning to understand what was happening, the Palestinian group Hamas bypassed all security barriers and launched a sensational land and sea attack on Israel. About 5,000 rockets, militants on Israeli soil, and paragliders loaded with weapons entered the country, killing Israeli civilians in several locations.

“The immediate thought was that something very serious was going on because terrorist groups rarely target Jerusalem and its environs for fear of targeting Muslim holy sites,” Mr Zakh told NDTV. “

Read onExplained: How the Mossad Works and Why It Failed to Stop the Hamas Attack

The 56-year-old, a former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier, lives about 5 kilometers from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina, on the Temple Mount, the holiest. is one of the locations. in Judaism. Mr. Zak’s parents, both in their 80s, live in Beersheba, a city about 100 kilometers south of Jerusalem, while his sister and daughter are in Tel Aviv, more than 60 kilometers to the northwest.

As the rocket hit his ears, Mr Zakh, a cricket fan and frequenter of Mumbai’s popular Irani cafe, looked at the family WhatsApp group and saw worried messages from his relatives.

He told NDTV, “We came to know what happened from internet resources and TV. Although the warning signs had been there for years, it was more than we could imagine. was.” “The IDF has let us down very badly. Definitely a shock to realize that things will not be the same before and after this morning.”

Read on | Explanation: Why Israel-Gaza war is a diplomatic test for India.

As Hamas militants launched their offensive, panic-stricken Israelis hid in their homes and reports circulated that Hamas was carrying out house-to-house terror attacks, shooting or dragging civilians. is going

Half a century after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war began, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a shocked nation, “We are at war.” The Israeli leader vowed to turn Hamas strongholds into “rubble” and urged Palestinians in Gaza to “flee”.

“It was difficult to witness the helplessness of the citizens, the photos and videos of many elderly and children being slaughtered or kidnapped in their homes, hundreds of young people from the Jamaat being shot at gunpoint by Islamist terrorists. but were killed, who are proud of their inhuman actions.” Mr. Zak said.

At least 700 Israelis have been killed and 1,200 injured in the massive Hamas attack. Hamas has reportedly taken at least 100 Israeli citizens hostage to Gaza, with shocking photos of the bloodthirsty hostages circulating online.

“The sights and sounds were of a scale that reminds us of what we know from the Holocaust, and can never forget. There was a feeling of intense anger,” Mr Zak said.

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After the shock of the attack wore off, Israeli forces unleashed their fury and shelled the Gaza Strip, intensifying their bombardment.

Mr. Zakh, after nearly 20 years in the tech industry, is currently pursuing a PhD in computer science at Ben-Gurion University. Two days after the shock attacks, staring at empty streets and wondering about the future of his war-torn country, Mr. Zak hopes for a change in the region’s status quo.

“Now, as the war rages on, it is clear that the status quo in which genocidal Islamist institutions are allowed to flourish on our doorstep, whether in Gaza or Lebanon, can no longer be accepted. This equation must change,” he insists. .

This is the hope not only of Mr. Zak, but also of thousands of Israelis who have either lost someone in the attacks or are now actively involved in their country’s revenge efforts. But as things stand, both sides continue to bleed and the war is not expected to end soon.

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