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Survivors of kibbutz attack turn their anger on Netanyahu – POLITICO

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Tomer Eliaz, a 17-year-old boy from Kibbutz Nahal Oz, was forced to go door to door by Hamas and tell his neighbors to get out, claiming he would be killed if they did not .

Several of them opened up and were murdered, while others were taken as hostages to Gaza – with several children locked in chicken pens. After using the teenager as bait, the Islamist militants also shot him dead.

Just 800 meters from the Gaza border, Nahal Oz was one of Hamas’ first targets on October 7, and the events of that morning are now painfully etched in the minds of residents Elad Poterman and Addi Cherry.

Both in Belgium today, they expressed frustration at what they see as an abandonment of the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose hostile policies towards the Palestinians are accused of undermining the security of Israel.

“He (Netanyahu) needs to say, ‘I’m sorry, I let you down.’ It’s because of me and my pride that you were almost murdered,” said Cherry, a 45-year-old Belgian-Israeli health economist.

Poterman and Cherry described how they locked themselves in secure rooms the morning of the attack and remained crouched for 12 hours, waiting for the Israel Defense Forces to come to their rescue. During those excruciating hours, rockets flew overhead and Hamas attacked homes across the kibbutzim shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) and “Slaughter the Jews.”

Poterman, who until last week worked as an after-school teacher, sent what he thought would be his last Facebook message from the vault: “Half hour we are locked up with terrorists at the house, no one comes.”

The 40-year-old said he sent the message while standing near the safe door, holding an axe, while his wife Maria held their seven-month-old baby daughter in one hand and a knife in the other. None of them expected to survive, but a latch installed on the inside of the door by a previous tenant prevented the terrorists from bursting through.

In a separate safe room, Cherry, her husband Oren and their three children barricaded the door as best they could with a cupboard and a chair.

In the days following the Hamas attack, 15 residents of Nahal Oz were confirmed dead, six kidnapped and four remain missing. The reasons for such a spectacular security lapse in a country that prides itself on its intelligence apparatus remain unclear and constitute a huge embarrassment for Netanyahu’s administration.

The surviving residents were put on a bus and taken to a military base in the south of the country, from where they will be resettled. But Cherry had already decided she would leave the country. Four days later, she and her family were aboard an El Al flight to Paris, where they were picked up by her brother and taken to Belgium. Poterman’s family arrived the next day.

It’s Netanyahu’s job

Both families want to rebuild their lives, but returning to Nahal Oz – which Poterman described as a “big garden” – is now impossible, they argued. Many buildings and fields around the village were burned, and Poterman and Cherry said they had lost confidence in the current government’s ability to protect them.

On Wednesday, Poterman and Cherry and other survivors spoke to the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with Israel about the atrocities they experienced.

“I have a personal account with this (Israeli) government,” Poterman said. “They abandoned my daughter to die. It doesn’t go away. I’ll never forget.”

“With the Netanyahu government, I will remove them from the Knesset (parliament) myself, with my own hands, I will do it. I have already started organizing a lot of people in the area who have been abandoned and want to do just that,” he added.

Likewise, Cherry said she couldn’t sleep, worrying about what might have happened to her family.

She still hasn’t told her son that half of his classmates won’t come back to school since they were killed. “A week ago I started my doctorate in economics, I imagined myself standing on a podium receiving a doctorate, now I can’t imagine a week ahead,” she said. “We had everything and now we have nothing.”

“I think it will take some time to heal because I don’t trust the government. I don’t trust them,” she said.

Poterman highlighted Netanyahu’s antagonism toward the Palestinians: the prime minister is allied with far-right parties and his national security minister is condemned for anti-Arab racism. Two days before the attack, Poterman complained that a man from the Religious Zionist Party, HaTzionut HaDatit, had built a cabin in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The move was a publicity stunt aimed at “deceiving the people of Israel” that “we are the owners and we can do whatever we want,” he said.

As the conflict escalates and threatens to involve other countries in the Middle East, Poterman called for “national reflection” and for Israelis and Palestinians to rise above the lies they are being told. their politicians. “We are on the brink of a civil war and it is Netanyahu’s doing. The problem is that a large part of the population is ready to repeat the lies that politicians have been telling for years.”

“What holds this type of regime back is people’s willingness to lie,” he said. “The moment they don’t want to lie and we learn that the king is actually naked, it falls apart very quickly.”



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