Moshe, 72, and Diana Rozen, 73, defied five armed Hamas terrorists who had frogmarched them towards the Gaza border in an extraordinary getaway.
When bloodthirsty militants attacked their kibbutz, Moshe and his wife, Diana, 73, found themselves in the clutches of terror, as barbaric terrorists laid waste to their home, burst into their bunker with machine guns and took them hostage in a savage attack.
Speaking from their hospital beds at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where they are expected to make a full recovery, the couple tell DailyMail.com their incredible escape story that saw a pair of pensioners defy their age, five Hamas terrorists, and most likely, death.
Moshe describes the fateful morning of Saturday, October 7, when their tranquillity was disturbed by the alarm for rocket fire, screeching overhead. But this is a sound those living near the Gaza border have grown used to and there was no panic as Moshe and Diana made their way to the supposed safety of their bunker.
Then, at around 11am, came the first whispers of the true danger to come. The kibbutz WhatsApp group began buzzing with warnings that Hamas gunmen had been seen stalking their perimeter. Thinking they may have to shelter in place for a little longer than usual, Moshe and Diana armed themselves with bottles of water and barricaded themselves in.
‘We heard suddenly everything is falling, crashing,’ Moshe says, speaking in Hebrew via a translator. ‘The terrorists were inside our home, breaking everything. We held onto the door of our bunker with all our strength to stop them getting in. Then we heard an automatic machine gun, and both our hands were badly shot. Five gunmen burst into the room. One appeared to be the commander, barking orders, while a mysterious sixth man, dressed in civilian clothing, loitered at the back.
Through our pain, the bleeding, the crying and the shouting, the commander said, “We’re taking you to Gaza!”, Moshe recounts, his voice reaching a crescendo to imitate his captor: ‘They pushed us, “go, go, go, go”.’ The traumatized couple were led through the dense foliage that surrounds their kibbutz as they dodged nearby gunfire as fighting raged around them.
But already it appeared things had not gone to plan for the terrorists. Moshe says they appeared ‘short tempered’ because they had wanted to drive back to the border, but their vehicle had been burned out in their own attack, leaving them with a long trudge home, hostages in tow. There was barely a word spoken on the seemingly interminable march towards Gaza, with neither party able to speak much English, let alone the Arabic or Hebrew of the opposing side.
But when they made it to the perimeter fence of their kibbutz, a little over 400 meters from their home, they were greeted by a large hole, evidently cut by Hamas earlier that day. It was at this moment that Moshe realized his life would never be the same again. To go on would mean imprisonment in Gaza at the hands of terrorists shown to have scant regard for human life.
He stood staring at his bloodied wife and at his own bloodied hands, then turned to his bloodthirsty captors.
‘We go home,’ he said, defiantly.
‘No! To Gaza!’ came the gunmen’s response.
‘We just turned and ran. We ran for our lives,’ he says.
Moshe knew to defy him would most likely mean execution. There was no way he could outrun or outfight the terrorists. But the alternative was even worse. ‘I thought, in any case we were going to die. Better to die on the grass of our kibbutz than in some prison inside Gaza,’ Moshe says. So he told Diana to run. ‘We didn’t turn around for even half a second. We just ran for our lives. We had the heart, but I don’t know where we found the energy. We were afraid. We expected them to shoot us in the back.’
But the sound of gunfire never came. Diana didn’t say a word to her husband as they hurtled back to their home. When their tired legs brought them back home, there was nothing left of it. Still, they knew they were not yet safe. The couple went to their close friends and neighbours, who were themselves hiding in their bunker, and knocked on their door, begging for help.
After what felt like forever, he adds, a military patrol arrived and took them to the nearest hospital, about half an hour away. But upon arrival they were met with scenes of hundreds of bloodied casualties lying across corridors in a ‘terrifying scene’.
It was clear Moshe and Diana were not going to receive the immediate attention they needed. Eventually, they were transported to Hadassah hospital, arriving at 4am on Sunday morning. From the moment they reached Hadassah, ‘a new world opened’ to Moshe, he says. ‘The nurse who admitted us was shocked that we hadn’t yet been treated, they took us right away to surgery and our care was amazing,’ Moshe adds.
While Moshe knows he may never fully understand the events of October 7, he and Diana still retain their spirit, something Diana says is necessary to avoid succumbing to their trauma. Diana lost a finger in the attack; Moshe nearly lost a hand. Reflecting on why the terrorists did not shoot them dead at that fateful moment they turned and ran, Moshe dismisses the notion that they had felt compassion. Midday was closing in and so was the Israeli Defense Force.
Others on their kibbutz were not so lucky. Moshe wants the name of his friend, Boaz Avraham, 61, to be known. The father-of-three ‘died a hero’ protecting the kibbutz, where he was murdered by Hamas. Boaz is one of four known to have been killed at Nir Yitzhak by Hamas during the attack – out of at least 1,300 slaughtered across Israel. It has been evacuated since the attacks. No one knows when it will be safe to return. Diana’s friend from the kindergarten she worked at was taken hostage, along with her entire family. Their status is unknown.
Moshe knows how close they came. ‘We are so very grateful, but we are a little surprised we are still alive.’
An excerpt from an article by Miles Dilworth, senior reporter for Dailymail.com
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