“This is the battle of my life": Chief Superintendent Shimon Portal, intelligence officer of the southern district of the police and the former commander of the Ashdod police station, has led many battles in the past, but never a battle like this.
During the Hamas attack on Saturday, he received a message from his daughter Neta, who lives on kibbutz Kfar Aza, in which she told him about terrorists who had infiltrated the kibbutz and she was in danger.
The officer told Channel 13 News: "It was Saturday morning, I hadn’t been called up yet, but I called myself up because I started receiving reports about the events in Sderot. They were getting closer to the police station. There was very heavy shooting and we understood that another battle was already going on there ... I got a message from my Natushka that there are terrorists at her place, in Kfar Aza village: 'There are endless exchanges of fire and people screaming.' Then she sends him her location."
Portal replied, ‘Sending now, are you in the security room?' And she replies, "Yes, it's locked."
After a few seconds, Neta sent the following message: ‘Dad they shot at me. Save me.' Portal, armed only with a gun, realizes that only he can save his daughter. He writes 'coming' and gets into his car.
He sped towards the besieged village, while terrorists on Route 232 shot and hit his vehicle – but he did not stop. "I drove madly towards the kibbutz, they shot at me, they shot at my car. I arrive at a gas station, where I meet another police officer, Boris Berdin. There was a terrorist on the left and he killed him. The terrorist hit Boris and I pulled him back".
He continued driving towards his daughter Neta's house. "As I was driving on the security road, I saw two hovercraft vehicles that landed there. As an intelligence officer, I understand that terrorists had landed there."
"I noticed two people in civilian clothes smoking a cigarette in such a calm manner. They said 'Ta’al' in Arabic. I shot at them and then four terrorists came out and started shooting at me with automatic Kalashnikov assault rifles. I put my car in reverse and drove off."
In the meantime, Neta and her partner Santiago heard the terrorists inside the house. Neta said: "Terrorists are breaking into our house, they realize that we are in the security room. At first, they tried to open the door, Santiago is fighting them and not let them in."
Portal, meanwhile, saw bodies lying on the floor and burnt houses on his way. "I shouted, 'Neta, Neta, Neta.' I went back and then two more came out of the house next door which was also burned. I drove back and get them away from the shooting."
After he rescued his kids and brought the youngsters to a safe place, he returned to his daughter's house, while he had no idea what her condition was.
"I was shot in my right foot, Santiago was also shot in his left foot through the security room door. While he struggled with them, we debated what to do. We understood that they were going to throw a grenade. I opened the window of the security room, and when I opened the window I saw a group, who my father probably saw, of 10 or 15 terrorists standing and leaning on the car smoking cigarettes and laughing. Santiago realized that they threw a grenade so he pushed me out of the window and I fell and got hurt. He jumped, and we just stood up, I was shot 5 more times, mostly in the legs. And we tried to get into one of the houses but the pressure broke the handle and we didn't manage. He actually found some kind of corridor across the street," said the daughter.
For almost three hours, Netta and Santiago managed to hold out until Shimon Portal reached them. From then until today, he thinks mainly about the children he rescued. "I don't know who these children are. I have to know that they are okay, I have no idea."
Neta concluded: "I have a hero father, I have a hero partner and none of them stopped fighting for me and were ready to sacrifice their lives for me."