Ken Toltz
Israel-based writer

Every day is October 7th

Ayalon Highway Herzliya
Huge Banner Hung Along Ayalon Highway Enroute to Tel Aviv from Herzliya (Ken Toltz)

Every hour of every day in the 11 weeks since October 7th, all the atrocious details of Hamas’s murderous attacks continue to be brought forth. All Israelis are seeing multiple first-person recollections of horrific acts of cruelty gleefully carried out and videoed by Hamas and Gaza civilians. Scenes of a frenzied hunt for unarmed terrified Israeli civilians, murdering family members, violently abducting others, narrated by some who escaped death or capture through the sacrifice of family members are now broadcast on home TVs.

The hundreds of home invasions visited upon bucolic Israeli kibbutzim have been documented in horrifying close up detail and through the descriptions of deeply traumatized survivors.

Two of Israel’s major cable television networks have broadcast heart stopping documentary films, never before seen terrifying reality TV. The Washington Post released carefully researched and documented film with partner Frontline which aired last week on PBS also including real time deeply personal videos as people fled, hidding sometimes for hours while the hunt, torture, sexual assaults, executions, abductions continued.

Not unspoken or unmentioned are the hundreds of calls, text messages, Whatsapp messages sent by Israelis while either fleeing, hiding or fighting for their lives plaintively pleading, when will the army arrive to help? While surprised and caught unprotected, southern Israel Negev kibbutzim and IDF surveillance outposts were both under attack by heavily armed vicious Hamas terrorists and Gaza civilians for hours and hours. In many, many cases the army never arrived until it was way too late.

These stories are so very difficult to hear, and for the relatives of victims virtually impossible to accept. Israeli public television KAN 11 reporter Keren Neubach has been on a mission to record and report interviews with parents of young largely female Israeli soldiers assigned to the Gaza border surveillance posts and hundreds of other IDF soldiers caught entirely by surprise and unprepared on the morning of October 7th.

Typically in their first or second year of service these 19 and 20 year olds, just a year out of high school, not trained in combat, found themselves unprotected while desperately trying to survive murderous attacks, in many cases unarmed and just out of bed still in their nightime sleepwear.

Their devastated parents who sent their precious children to the IDF are relating every detail to Kan 11’s Keren Neubach, of that October 7th morning quoting texts, Whatsapps, and reports from the very few who survived and lived to tell about it. If their daughters weren’t viciously murdered, they were violently abducted to Gaza and remain there today. In many cases the parents have received little information or support from the IDF pouring bags of salt into open wounds.

In introducing her reporting Keren said, “About 60 soldiers and female soldiers fell in the battle on the Nahal Oz outpost. There were 26 observers there. 15 were killed that day. 7 were kidnapped. Uri Magidish was released and Noa Marciano was murdered in captivity. Few were saved, I can’t even imagine what they are going through. We set for ourselves the goal of talking to their parents to tell their stories and the story of the failure.”

“This is the story of Noam Abramovich her second day on the job at Nahal Oz surveillance post.”

“It started like everyone else with the 6:30 am rocket barrage,” Edva Abramovich Noam’s mother told Keren Neubach in a recent interview. “I texted Noam to check what’s up with her and if she’s in a safe place. And she calls us and says it’s very, very scary and she loves us and it doesn’t matter what happens and at this point we don’t understand what she’s saying at all.”

“The call was at 6:36 am and then she writes: ‘Mom, I love you’ and explains that there is a raid on the base and I write to her: ‘Hide, be focused, don’t speak loudly’ and she writes to me ‘there are terrorists’ and I write to her Are you sure?’ ‘Yes, they speak in Arabic and scream ‘Allahu Akbar’ and it’s crazy scary, I love you no matter what happens.”

“And I write: ‘Hide Noam, it must be only one and they will eliminate him soon, don’t worry.’ We corresponded with her until 7:34 am and then her voice went silent. Noam did not fall, they were murdered, butchered and executed like a firing squad. They (Hamas terrorists) entered the shelter, sprayed them, threw a grenade, those who were kidnapped were kidnapped, those who managed to escape ran away and the rest were corpses.”

“Edva Abramovich’s grief and anger are unbearable. Noam didn’t even have time to serve in the position that she wanted so much. She didn’t even have time to make friends in the new base,” Edva says.

Israelis’ 75-year deeply held trust and confidence in the IDF and senior leadership has suffered the deepest crisis of confidence and emotional trauma Israel has ever known due to the catastrophic failures on October 7th. It is way too early to think Israelis have internalized the events and lessons from October 7th. Sadly Israel’s political leadership has failed to accept responsibility for their role, the catastrophic failures rooted in hubris, arrogance, institutional groupthink, lack of imagination, impunity from citicism and lack of accountability. It will be left to the Israeli people to live up to the massive roadside billboards “Together We Will Win” to recover optimism about Israel’s future, and demand accountability and reform of the military and political leadership. We have a very long road ahead.

About the Author
Ken Toltz began his professional career at AIPAC in Washington, D.C. after attending Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He's a 3rd generation Colorado native, businessman and long-time gun violence prevention activist. After 42 years from his first visit to Israel, in 2019 he relocated his home to Mitzpe Ramon in Israel's Negev. Ken currently resides in Herzliya. He writes about Israeli politics, relations with the U.S. and the Israeli creative class of writers and filmmakers.