Prepared to die to stop terrorists at Nahal Oz

A human barrier meant approaching terrorists would have to pass through the armed men of Nahal Oz to reach the kibbutz.

Robert Harris

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You would see them drilling, with rifles slung over their shoulders. They would come together quickly-- some arriving in cars, others on motorcycles, and still more men coming from their homes.

This was in 2008 at Kibbutz Nahal Oz down south along the deadly Gaza border.

These men were husbands and fathers, all IDF veterans, who were rehearsing to become the last line of defense if terrorists from Gaza were to enter the kibbutz on a mission to butcher the young and old.

The men had procedures for how to be alerted to a terror attack, how to meet and form into a group, and how to move forward as a group. But, above all, they practiced how they would become a human barrier, prepared to die to protect their loved ones.

And that day did arrive, on April 9, 2008, when so many would be tested.

Nahal Oz sits next to the Gaza Strip. It was settled in 1951 by a group of soldiers from the famed Nahal Brigade. In 2016 there were 363 residents of the kibbutz.

Just one minute beyond Nahal Oz, when heading on the road towards Gaza, is a small military base and, lastly, a fuel depot, where a pipe carries fuel into Gaza.

This depot allows Israeli fuel truck drivers to deliver fuel to Gaza, without actually entering the blood-soaked Hamas-ruled territory.

On this day in 2008, two Israelis who lived in Beersheba had hooked their truck up to the fuel pipe when four terrorists attacked. The Gaza terrorists had breached the border fence and made their way across the agricultural fields.

The two drivers were quickly murdered, as nearby Israeli soldiers learned of the attack by the sound of gunfire.

At the same time, the terrorists set up mortars and began shelling Nahal Oz, in preparation for entering the kibbutz on a mission to kill as many innocent Jews as possible. 

Mortar shells fell onto a parking lot, setting cars on fire, as the terrorists were recalibrating their aim, seeking to fire shells deeper into the kibbutz.

Kibbutz members were notified of the ongoing terror attack by an alarm. Those in their homes were instructed to lock themselves into their bomb shelters.

But unlike those residents seeking safety, the men who protected Nahal Oz quite deliberately placed themselves in the path of the terrorists.

Coming together from throughout the kibbutz, armed with rifles, the men of Nahal Oz arrived at their rehearsed positions to stand as a human barrier between the terrorists and the kibbutz.

For the terrorists to enter the kibbutz, they would have to pass through these men. At that moment, these Israelis had to put aside their own fears for their families and friends and act as one to protect the Israeli presence on its ancient land.

There was no talking among these men. Everyone knew what to do.

But one can only imagine the tension they endured, with fingers on triggers and eyes straining for any movement that indicated the savage terrorists had breached the kibbutz inner fence.

In fact, on this day the terrorists were driven off by soldiers before they could run the short distance to reach the kibbutz. And, according to procedure, the men from the kibbutz did not stand down until so ordered by the IDF.

But they were there on that day in 2008 when terrorists sought to butcher residents of Nahal Oz. They did not wait when the alarm was sounded. They did not hesitate to put their lives on the line to defend their homes and neighbors.

We ask, ‘What manner of men?’ And we know, unequivocally, what kind of men protect the land and people of Israel. 

The men of Nahal Oz.