Tim Flack

Breaking the Silence: I Saw It with My Own Eyes

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

These words of Martin Niemöller remind us of the dangers of remaining silent. Today, we must speak out against the recent actions of politicians and others who publicly displayed support for Hamas on X, one even brandishing a rifle and holding a Hamas terrorist flag shortly after the brutal October 7th attacks on Israel.

A toy ambulance in front of a house that was burnt to the ground by Palestinians at Kibbutz Nir Oz. -Tim Flack

The attacks, which I have personally witnessed the aftermath of, as I have spent a considerable amount of time in Israel and travelled to the south of Israel to the kibbutzim that were attacked, were not solely perpetrated by Hamas. Palestinians also participated in heinous acts of rape, kidnapping, looting, and arson. I have heard firsthand accounts from survivors at Kibbutz Nir Oz and the Nova Festival massacre. During these horrific events, Palestinian attackers, other than the initial armed Hamas terrorists, partied to music blaring from stolen cars, ate the Shabbat lunch stolen from the canteen they destroyed, and continued their brutal rampage.

50 BMG bullet hole in the door of the dining hall at Kibbutz Nir OZ- by Tim Flack

I stood inside Kibbutz Nir Oz and saw the bullet, RPG, and grenade-riddled walls. My military and firearms background recognizes the 7.62×38 AK bullet holes as well as the 50.BMG (a round as large as my hand) used on people and houses. I saw the burnt-out houses and the piles of ash that had to be sifted through to identify the charred remains of the dead. I saw the tricycles of the two Bibas brothers, Kfir and his 4-year-old brother Ariel, and stood outside the home of their parents, Shiri and Yarden Bibas, who are still held hostage by Palestinians in Gaza as we speak. The images and experiences from that time will stay with me forever.

Home of the Siman Tov Family.
Tamar Kedem Siman Tov, 35, her husband Yonatan “Johnny” Siman Tov, 36, their 5.5-year-old twin daughters, Shahar and Arbel, and son Omer were murdered by Hamas.- Tim Flack

I took pictures and videos of what I saw, including a moment when I had only ten seconds to get into a bomb shelter. In that shelter, people who had come to dance in the vast desert of the Negev were brutally pelted with grenades and bullets until they were all dead. I felt the booms of the Hamas rockets still being fired at Israel, exploding overhead.

On October 7th, South Africans were also affected. Aviva Siegel and Channa Peri were kidnapped by Hamas. Marcelle Talia, a 65-year-old South African woman, visited her daughter who had just given birth on October 6th. She was killed by Hamas while taking sweets to her grandchildren at Kibbutz Hashlosha, concerned they would be scared as 3,000 rockets were fired into Israel simultaneously. Another, Sa’ar Margolis, responded immediately when he heard suspicious sounds outside his home on the morning of October 7, when Palestinian terrorists breached the border from Gaza and attacked the kibbutz. He is survived by his wife, Yasmin, and their two daughters, Mia, 9, and Tavor, 7.

The pain and terror inflicted by these attacks are unfathomable, and the scars left on the survivors and their communities are deep and enduring. I was not there when the attacks happened, but I saw the video footage taken by the terrorists and saw the aftermath with my own eyes. I am deeply traumatized by what I witnessed and can only imagine what the men, women, and children killed, wounded, kidnapped, and the survivors went through.

On October 7, Eden Yerushalami was bartending at the Nova Music Festival. When Hamas attacked, Eden attempted to flee, hiding in a car under the bodies of her murdered friends, pretending to be dead. She then ran towards a forested area and hid under a bush in fetal position for hours as ants bit her face. For over 3 hours, Eden stayed on the phone with her older sister. Before the call dropped, Eden’s sister heard men shouting in Arabic as Eden whispered “They caught me.” The call that Eden made to the emergency hotline that morning was also recently shared – gunfire and shouting can be heard in the background as Eden begs for help. Eden turned 24 years old in captivity. – Tim Flack

South Africa’s commitment to human rights demands that we address and condemn such actions. We must ensure that no individual or group feels threatened or marginalized because of their ethnic or religious background. It is our duty to uphold the values enshrined in our Constitution and protect the rights of all citizens.

Posting support for an organization like Hamas is unthinkable, disgusting, and must be condemned. Posting support for Hamas and the Palestinians that committed these acts is an affront to humanity. How can one show such support and expect that it is okay and acceptable? It is not. How are Jews in South Africa meant to feel seeing this kind of support and imagery for a group that has claimed in their charter in Article 7:

“Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews. The Jews will hide behind the stones and the trees, and the stones and the trees will say, oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew hiding behind me — come and kill him.”

This is who these politicians and Hamas lackeys claim to support? I will not stand alone one day and say, “There was no one left to speak for me.”

I am not here to be lectured or whatabouted about Israel’s actions. The ICJ and leaders in this world are addressing the way Israel defends itself and looks for its hostages. I’m not here to be called a Zionist; so what if I am? I am here today to stand up and say that making statements with a weapon of war and brandishing a terrorist organization’s flag cannot be condoned or acceptable in South Africa and the world.

Here I met with Daniel Carmon (former Ambassador to India and SriLanka)
and a family member of one of the hostages. Hearing their stories and how the families are dealing with this terrible situation broke my heart. It’s traumatic having been to the Kibbutz where his son-in-law was kidnapped from. His wife was 38 weeks pregnant at the time he was kidnapped. What the Palestinians did was unforgivable.
About the Author
The writer is a seasoned communications professional with a diverse background spanning military service, media, public relations, and safety and security. He is a firearms activist and owns the Cape Town-based public relations firm Flack Partners PR.