top of page

Bearing Witness

This week, Mazkira Lucy Ross went to Israel with the Board of Deputies to express solidarity with the

people of Israel and learn from those impacted by Hamas on October 7th. Lucy writes about the people she met on the trip and wanted to share those stories with the movement.


Firstly, I want to thank the Board of Deputies for running this trip. It was truly life changing to hear from so many people affected by October 7th and to understand the collective grief the country is facing. During the trip we participated in a range of activities, including volunteering, hearing from those directly impacted, and visiting some of the key sites from the massacre. However, I want to share a few moments that stood out for me and how I felt in response. 

We went to Sderot, in the South of Israel, extremely close to Gaza. These people live with the threat of rockets daily, in which they only have 15 seconds to run to a shelter if a siren goes off. I asked a local why she chooses to live here as I couldn’t understand it. She told me that the people and the culture of the city is amazing, but also, if people didn’t live here then it wouldn’t be Israel anymore. This really stuck with me, and the civic duty to protect this land was utterly inspiring and felt throughout the whole of Sderot.

In this city we met police office Shai Smudger and we learnt of his heroism on October 7th. A group of 26 Hamas terrorists tried to take over the police station here. They arrived when officers where changing shift and they knew where to go, how many people would be there, and they acted like a well informed army. They killed anyone near the police station, including innocent civilians and officers, and they did not care about race or religion. Shai lost 7 friends and fellow officers this day. He was not working, but when he heard something was happening he drove immediately down to the police station. He fought against the terrorists and coordinated with the IDF and the remaining police officers on how to handle the situation. A family with two little girls drove past, the terrorists shot both parents and the girls managed to be rescued from the car by Shai and his colleagues. Shai co-ordinated defending Sderot until the IDF could get there, which took a while because another group of terrorists had gone to the north of the city, killing people house to house, shop to shop, and car to car. Shai was extremely heroic this day, as he protected as many people as he could and led the operation in Sderot. 51 people were killed in this city and the police station unfortunately no longer stands. Shai’s final message to us was “Whatever religion or race you are it doesn't matter if you are with us you are part of us. We just want to live in peace and this is a just war, a war for our existence. We are not going anywhere, this is our home. Am Yisrael Chai.” Shai is a true Zionist hero and it was an honour to meet him.

We visited the army base Nahal Oz, where open fighting broke out, and 300 soldiers on base were killed. When walking around the base, bullet holes are seen everywhere. We entered the intelligence and communications room, where 26 women officers were working. They were killed by the terrorists with grenades. The room was completely destroyed and the the remains of this room were absolutely harrowing. The soldier touring us around the site told me he lost 320 people he knew in that one day, and I was speechless to the grave loss he had faced.

We went to the site of the Nova Festival, in Re’im, 400m from Gaza. This was the site where 370 party-goers were ruthlessly murdered. We met with Ron Segev, a survivor of the party, who recounted his story. He tried to drive away from the party with his brother and two friends once the rockets started. They were stuck in traffic and cars/motorcycles of terrorists were coming behind them. They all got out of the car and ran. He said it was like a scene in a movie with abandoned cars, people running everywhere, and shots firing towards them. Ron and his brother were crawling to a car for shelter as they felt bullets landing beside them but they remained low. They waited behind this abandoned car and the next set of terrorists on a motorcycle are now in line with them. However they only looked left, and not right, meaning they didn’t see Ron and his brother. Ron managed to turn this car on and drove as fast as he could away. On the way he picked up 8 people to save them. When they got further towards central Israel, he decided to go back for his two friends. He was arguing with all the people in the car about it, and eventually they decided they were in this together and to all go back and help look for them. By miracle, they found their friends and, with 12 people in this car, they drove to Beer Sheva. On the way, Rons brother thought he was having a heart attack. Ron drove as fast as he could to the hospital. He got to the hospital and the floor was covered with blood, and they realised in this moment it wasn’t just attacks at the festival, but something much bigger was going on. In this moment, Ron, his brother, and the rest of the car had all managed to survive the attacks. Ron has slept 3 nights since the festival and is struggling from extreme trauma. I cannot imagine what Ron went through, and to be stood at the site where it happened felt surreal. I thought back to the music festivals in the UK I had been too and I couldn’t imagine the fear and terror that they all must have felt. Beautiful, innocent and young civilians either murdered or traumatised. 

Elisha Medan is a true zionist hero that I was fortunate enough to meet. Elisha was called into reserve duty early on October 7th, and he recalls going down to the South of the country in disbelief of what he was seeing, as he saw abused women, murdered citizens, and carnage everywhere. Elisha fought here, and then was part of the first unit to go straight into Gaza. Elisha lost both his legs, with his fellow IDF soldiers risking their own lives to pull him and his other injured soldiers out from a building in Gaza, and amputate their legs so they would survive. Elisha got airlifted out of Gaza where he has been in a rehabilitation hospital working towards getting prosthetic legs. Elisha has 6 children, the youngest of whom has cut off the legs of all her dolls in solidarity with her father. Elisha had three final things to tell us from his story: He told us to always be grateful. He said that he is more grateful than ever before as he believes it could have been much worse for him, and he has a new chance to change his life for the better. Secondly, to increase our senseless love as that is our power. He said to repair your relationships, don’t argue with people, and has said that he has made peace with all his friends, and everyone must make peace as its the only way to win. Thirdly, he asked us when we are making Aliyah with a smile on his face. Elisha was uplifting and positive about the future, and even though he had seen and been through so much, he inspired us with every word he said. Elisha plans to go back to the IDF in a different role when he can as he wants to protect the state of Israel. 

The final person we met who I want to name is Ditza, the mother of Avinatan Or. Avinatan was kidnapped from the Nova Music festival alongside his girlfriend Noa Argamani, both of whom remain in captivity. Ditza told us how wonderful of a son he is, and how him and Noa are very much in love. Ditza was an inspiration as she remains so positive, telling us how through her faith she speaks to him everyday and is so proud of him. Ditza told us that Noa’s mum is very unwell with brain cancer and in the beginning, all she wanted was to see Noa again before she dies, and now she wants to know that Noa is happy and married to Avinatan. Ditza thanked us, and told us its because of the people standing with her that keeps their strength alive. This message has stayed with me, and I stand with the people of Israel in all the traumas and horrors they have experienced and are still going through/recovering from.

These are five incredible people I have mentioned. Only five of the thousands of people affected by the trauma of October 7th, and their stories break my heart. I can’t comprehend that there are thousands of other stories from this day. We must understand the national trauma that the citizens of Israel are going through, whilst understanding that they are still under threat. And I promise to carry these stories forward with me forever. Israeli citizens have come together, and I have never seen a more united people going through such collective grief. In the diaspora, we have a responsibility to make sure we don’t forget October 7th, that we educate on what happened, and that we stand with the people of Israel. It was a privilege to be back in a country so close to my heart, and an honour to meet these amazing and inspirational people.

Thank you to the Board of Deputies for organising this trip. 

Am Yisrael Chai!


Recent Posts

See All

1 commento

We at Tribrid have years of experience working with brands across all niches be it beauty, healthcare, tech, etc. Our years of experience combined with the latest box packaging custom printing technology will allow you to get the best design and packaging solutions out there for product boxes wholesale. So what are you waiting for? Book a call or request a quote to get started today.

Mi piace
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Instagram - White Circle
bottom of page