KFAR ETZION Beyond the horror of the Hamas attacks on Israeli border communities, stories of courage that saved many lives are coming to light. CBN News spoke with one hero, who together with his security team, saved an entire community.
Yedidia Harush and his family live in Shlomit, less than five miles from Gaza and one of three communities in an area called Halutza, meaning pioneers.
“A few bombs fell near the houses near us, which caused a lot of damage. And, uh, afterwards, um, it got kind of quiet for a few minutes. And I looked at my wife and with our eyes I told her that something is not right. It’s not the usual attacks,” Harush said of the morning of October 7.
Harush is part of Shlomit’s security team. Early on October 7, they got a phone call from a family in the nearby community of Pri Gan, just five minutes down the road.
“He said that outside his house, there are seven terrorists who are waiting to get into his house. Immediately, the security team did not think twice, and they get got into the cars and drove to Pri Gan,” he said.
When Shlomit’s 11-man security team arrived, they engaged in fighting terrorists in Pri Gan with no idea of what’s happening around them.
“For two hours, there was a heroic battle of the first (response) team with the 12 terrorists that we later on found out the terrorists had maybe hundreds of grenades, ammunition, RPGs, side bombs.
“They had special kits to open bomb shelters, drills. They wanted to open the bomb shelters and basically massacre the entire community and then go to the next community and the next community,” he explained.
As the team got the upper hand, terrorists ran away from the fight. While Pri Gan suffered no losses and the surrounding communities were saved, their rescuers were not so fortunate.
“Unfortunately, we paid a heavy price. Four of our best guys, brothers, neighbors, friends, were killed during this battle,” he said sadly. “And in one moment we had, 15 new orphans that joined the community, and four widows, from this attack.”
Harush then remembered he had a drone back home.
“I was able to guide the helicopter that was brought from the IDF. At some point, the IDF called us, and they asked us to guide them where there are terrorists around and they were shooting towards the areas where we told them there were terrorists,” he added.
About 350 Shlomit community members evacuated to the field school at Kfar Etzion. Owned and operated by the KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund, this beautiful field school in the hills of Judea is normally a place for groups to enjoy nature.
Nearly two years ago in February 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, the KKL-JNF offered a different field school as a home for a Jewish orphanage that had fled Ukraine. Now, they are sheltering the displaced Israelis.
Kfar Etzion carries its own place in history.
“Kfar Etzion is a place that in 1948 fought a heroic battle themselves and was evacuated to Jerusalem. And 19 years later, they came here after the Six-Day War,” Harush explained.
“I, myself, was evacuated from the Gaza Strip as a child, as a 17-year-old boy. And, coming here and being a refugee again, felt a lot like what we felt after we left Gaza,” he said.
That happened in 2005, when Israel uprooted 21 Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip and four in the West Bank as a move towards peace. Known as the Disengagement, the decision, however, eventually enabled Hamas to take over Gaza.
Harush has now be drafted to the reserves. He says he’s thinking about going back to Shlomit.
“And with the support of our friends from the Jewish National Fund, we’ll be able to rebuild everything that was destroyed,” he said.
As for the day after the war, Harush says the message is clear.
“We’re the Jewish people. We prevailed and managed to come out of, many horrific attacks, pogroms, Holocaust, Egypt. And we will be able to come out of this as strong as we can,” he said.
Even in the adversity, Harush sees God’s hand at work.
“Everything that God does He does for the best, even if it’s on the edge of delusional to say it now. This is the faith that many of my community have. And we don’t know how it’s going to roll, but it’s going to come out very, very good. God wants us united. I call it the war of unity. Because when we are united, nobody can do anything to us.”