Survivor of Oct. 7 Hamas attack tells her story

Survivor of Oct. 7 Hamas attack shares her story

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BRIGHTON, N.Y. — A woman rescued with her family after the Hamas attack on Israel gave a firsthand account of what happened in her community Oct. 7.

Eden Gefner spoke Thursday night at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester. She is speaking to communities as part of the “Faces of October Seventh” project, which brings the firsthand experiences of those affected by the terrorist attacks to communities across North America.

According to Israel, around 1,200 people were killed that day.

Gefner, 28, says she was in her parents’ home in a kibbutz near the border with Gaza when Hamas terrorists took over the kibbutz and entered the house.

She said she and her family — parents, grandparents and boyfriend — hid in their bunker under gunfire for 26 hours until Israeli defense forces were able to come to their rescue.

She said she’s still dealing with trauma to this day.

“To see my home, to see my area become a murderfield, become a shooting range, was like going to another world to me, like stepping to another reality,” Gefner said.

The Faces of October Seventh project aims to bring home the horror and terror of that day in the face of what Gefner and others involved characterize as “a wave of denial.”

“The project is about to bring the stories of the people who experienced October 7 and to share our story and the truth — because on October 8, it started a wave of denial on what happened in Israel on October 7,” she said.

In her experience of that day, she said, “I just woke up, and I was thinking to myself … that I didn’t do nothing bad; me, my family, all the people who party in the Nova festival (a music festival where hundreds were killed, wounded or taken hostage), we didn’t do nothing bad; we didn’t do nothing that justified that Hamas would want to murder us. Only because we are Jew.”

She tried to keep faith, even while they heard terrorists shooting the front door of their house. “I needed to believe that we’re going to survive,” she said.

Gefner and her family were rescued by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and taken out of the kibbutz. She said her family is now safe in Tel Aviv.

Asked what she hopes people take away from her account of her experiences, she said, “We cannot break because of this terror. This terror organization named Hamas wants to break us, want us, the people who live in Gaza, who live in this area to feel like we don’t have a future. We are astrong community and we’re not going to break down; as humanity I think, we cannot break down to this terrible – we cannot agree to the action that was happening October 7.”

Also, she added, “I told myself if I will survive this October 7 I will make an impact with my life, I will do something important and focus on the good side of life and not on the bad.”