(NewsNation) — Some Israel attack survivors say they waited many hours for police or the military to arrive after Hamas swarmed their communities, slaughtering civilians. Amir Tibon and his family woke up to the sound of Hamas at their home. They were saved after waiting for 10 hours — not by military or police, but by his own father.
Tibon’s father, a retired major general of the Israeli Defense Forces, saved his son’s family and dozens of others as Hamas launched its surprise attack on Israel. Tibon told NewsNation’s Elizabeth Vargas that the bravery of people like his dad saved so many lives that day.
“The courage and bravery of specific individuals, some of them were policemen, some of them were soldiers, and some of them, like my father, who came from Tel Aviv to our area to join the fight, were civilians. This is what saved lives that morning,” Tibon told Vargas. “It was the courage of individuals who decided to go out and fight.”
Tibon, a correspondent for Haaretz, insists it wasn’t just his father taking action. He says many people risked their lives to rescue others.
“It’s not just one man. It’s true. My father did an extraordinary thing by coming down to the region and joining the fight. He’s over 60. He’s a retired military officer. He took his pistol. He came down there against all the advice and all the warnings of the authorities. But he was also there and joined the fight that was also taken by others,” Tibon said.
After waiting with his wife and young daughters for 10 hours to be rescued, Tibon feels the Israeli government failed his community.
“It’s true that the government and the military failed us. It’s also true that very brave people, my father being one of them, saved us. This is the complicated reality we’re seeing emerging out of this terrible massacre in our community and others along the border,” Tibon said.
In many border communities, Tibon explained, there are designated security coordinators who are civilians and not military figures. They are tasked with trying to keep an eye out for danger to keep communities safe. The security coordinator of Tibon’s kibbutz was one of his neighbors.
“He went out that morning to fight. He left behind his wife and three daughters, and he never came back. He died in battle, but that may have bought us time that he stood up to them. It was enough time for others to lock their doors, lock their windows, get into the safe rooms and wait,” Tibon said.
The morning of the attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, Tibon and his wife were sleeping when they jolted awake after hearing rocket fire. While hearing rocket fire is not unusual on their kibbutz, which sits on the border with Gaza, this attack struck them as something different.
Tibon heard voices and realized Hamas was just outside of their home. Hamas, which has been designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization since at least 1997, posted video showing them on Tibon’s front porch, infiltrating the kibbutz and firing shots from the front door of the home.
Tibon and his wife rushed to their safe room, which happens to be in their daughter’s bedroom. Courage was on display for those outside fighting Hamas, he says, but it was also inside several homes where children kept quiet for hours and trusted their parents to protect them the best way they could.
“My wife was very brave. She explained to the girls very early that morning, when we entered the room and we shut the door, shut the windows and it was all dark and soon electricity ran out … She just told them, ‘Girls, you have to be very, very quiet right now. There’s a dangerous situation outside. We’re waiting for soldiers to come and rescue us.’ At some point, we realized my father was coming down, so we started telling them their grandfather is going to come with the soldiers and save us,” Tibon said. “They listened to us. They put their faith in us and their parents in this very difficult time.”
Tibon and his wife spent 10 hours in the dark with no food, trying to keep their children quiet and entertained. They sometimes decided to softly sing to bring them comfort as Hamas yelled to each other outside. Uncertain if help would come, Tibon called his father, Noam, who grabbed his pistol and left Tel Aviv to help.
As Tibon’s family waited in fear, his father was urgently trying to make his way to his granddaughters and talking his way through several checkpoints. When he reached his loved ones, Tibon turned to his daughters and told them their grandpa was there for them.
“After it was all over and we met our neighbors and most of our community survived, we heard that many, many children were very brave on that day and stayed quiet for long hours in the dark with no food, with no electricity. It’s hard to explain the courage of these children. But I admire my own girls’ faith, and I admire so many other children in our community, who went through this terrible experience, listened to their parents, and did what had to be done in order to not draw the attention of the terrorists, to the fact that there were families inside these houses in these rooms,” Tibon said.
The attacks by Hamas have killed more than 1,400 Israelis. In Tibon’s kibbutz of Nahal Oz in southern Israel, he says the small agricultural community alone knows of 12 people who were killed and 10 who are missing out of the 500 people who live there. In another nearby community, he says more than 100 people were slaughtered.
“On the one hand, we say, you know, there was a miracle here (in Nahal Oz) and several very, very brave people like my own father, my own neighbor, contributed to it. But at the same time, this miracle came with a disaster,” Tibon said.
Tibon maintains that Israel’s top priority should be eliminating Hamas, but he believes the Israeli government should be held accountable at some point for their response.
“Right now, the most important thing for us is to defeat Hamas, to eradicate this organization. What they did is something that will never be forgotten. We should do everything in our power to make the threat of Hamas extinct,” Tibon said. “After we’re finished with that, I believe we will also have to demand accountability and responsibility from our own government, starting at the highest strengths with the prime minister. This is the biggest failure in the history of the state of Israel. But, first and more than anything else, we have to win this war.”
U.S. and Israeli officials say the attack on Israel was the most lethal assault against Jews since the Holocaust. Following a war declaration, Israel is now believed to be preparing for a possible ground offensive in Gaza to retaliate against Hamas.