The most sorrowful WhatsApp group of this war comprises over 600 messages—desperate, hysterical, pleading for help that may never arrive, it bears the optimistic name, "Nir Oz Community Chat”. that was the group of the Kibbutz’s members, who suffered unbearable tragedy on that Black Sabbath, October 7th.
A small, remote kibbutz placed near the border, housing around 400 inhabitants, which the terrorists infiltrated, moving from house to house, firing their weapons, killing, and looting almost without hindrance for many hours. When they couldn't break into the bomb shelters, they simply set the houses on fire, burning them alive.
"Three times my wife and I tried to hold onto the bomb shelter’s door from the inside when they attempted to open it," recalled Baruch Reggev, 75, a senior resident. "At a certain point, we realized they were setting the house on fire. The handle of the bomb shelter door grew hotter and hotter, and thick smoke began to fill the room. It was impossible to touch the handle as it was scorching. We abandoned the bomb shelter room with the understanding that they might shoot us or take us as captives, but at least we wouldn't die from suffocation. I stumbled out, vomiting and choking, and we fled into a ruined house, seeking refuge there."
Not long before 2PM, military forces arrived at the Kibbutz. The reason for the dreadful delay remains unclear. In Kfar Gaza, Beeri, and Nahal Oz, soldiers had arrived earlier, engaging in skirmishes with Hamas militants. In Nir Oz, the militants had managed to carry out whatever horrors they desired even before the soldiers arrived. They left behind a trail of burning houses, children's beds stained with blood, and paths of blood leading away from the blazing bomb shelters.
Throughout the morning, afternoon, and evening, the "Nir Oz Community Chat" typically a place for discussions, gatherings and happiness, was filled with cries and pleas for help and fear, as well as updates about the trapped residents in the burning bomb shelters.
Moments before the full tragedy in the Kibbutz was revealed – with about a third of the residents murdered, kidnapped, or missing, including entire families – the local WhatsApp chat unfolded what had happened, minute by minute. This is a chronicle of the sheer panic, desperate cries for help, powerlessness, a desperate wait for assistance, and, ultimately, in many cases, suffocation, injuries, and silence.
This is part of the chaos within the group, starting at 6:35 in the morning, with the first missile launch barrage. The publication is in coordination and agreement with the kibbutz residents, and at their request, family names are preserved within the system. The original wording and spelling errors are retained.
Checking the situation please take cover in a protected space
Message from Eshkol Local Council:
Dear citizens, good morning and shabbat shalom. In the last few minutes there is heavy firing towards the townships of the region and all over Israel. You must take cover in protected spaces or the safest space available until further notice. When the details become clear we will update you immediately.
Stay in the protected rooms and lock the doors
There are terrorists by the clinic dressed as (Israeli) soldiers
What’s happening? Have they been caught?
Better tell us what’s happening. Not knowing is making us crazy
There are infiltrations all over the country
Is there discussion of rescuing us when it will be possible?
Morning... is anyone qualified to give the Nir Oz community updated information? As reliable as possible. The lack of information and rumors are making the nervous situation worse. Thanks
Gidon it will all become clear eventually. The role of the citizens is just to keep ourselves alive, the army and the township emergency team are doing the best they can I am sure
2 terrorists on a motorbike are on the ring-road
Will someone please neutralize them!!
They were shooting in our neighborhood
Now in our neighborhood
They’re in the student village
There’s shooting in my area
There’s shooting by us. Sounds like they’re trying to get in
I can hear terrorists in our house. We’re in the safe room
They’re trying to break in. HELP please
Sharon? Chana’le? Show me you’re alive
It seems they went out.
From outside I can hear Arabs
Come please they’re here
By the sounds of it they have dismantled our house
They’re in our house
Kill them already!!!
HELP please they’re here. We have no weapons
They’re here PLEASE
Family ▆▆ needs help! There’s a terrorist in their house
They’re in our house
Uri has a gun and shot at them
They could be throwing a grenade
How do you lock the safe room????
They’re continuing to shoot at the window
Outside my place
Behind my house I hear shouting in Arabic
Where’s the army??????
They’ve entered our place and Shifra’s
Lock the handle from inside by placing something beneath it so that it can’t be pushed down. That’s what we did
They’re in our house
HELP please – also in the house of Stav and Eitan
In our house
The terrorists are in our house come HELP
Does anyone know if the army is on the way? Something?
They’re in Zohar Adar’s house HELP URGENT!!!!!
HELP they’re in our house
I have no weapon and I am alone
They’re in our house PLEASE
They’re banging on the windows
They’re trying to break into the safe room PLEASE will someone come
Why is the army not here?!!
They’re in my house
How many are there of them that they are everywhere at the same time
Tie the handle of the safe room with a twisted sheet rope or whatever there is and hold it not opposite the door
I can’t lift the handle
Can someone tell me where our acclaimed army is in all of this
There’s shooting inside our house
They’re in our house. They’re shooting in the house. PLEASE send the army
Guys – if it’s possible to get to the student village to see what’s happening there it would be great. The folks there haven’t been answering for 40 minutes and sent worrying messages!!!!
In my house. Afraid
They came into my house, making a racket and shouting and went out. Hold the safe room door for and it’ll be over in 5 minutes
They’re in our house tried to open the safe room door HELP us
They’re burning our house down
Put a wet towel by the entrance to the safe room NOW!!
In my house trying to break in
They’re in our house trying to open the safe room door
Also in our house shouting Allah Achbar and turning the house upside down. As long as they don’t get into the safe room. At the beginning they tried.
Looks like the Kibbutz is in their control. Can only hear Arabic outside
They’re in the next room and we’re holding the door of the safe room. What can we do? They’re destroying the house
I can hear them very close by
They got in HELP!!!!!
They keep trying to open the door to the safe room PLEASE HELP
They’re in my house and I can’t close the safe room door
They’re destroying my house
Where’s the ARMYYYYY ?!?!?!?!?
The terrorists are with Gadi trying to take money and the car key. They’re arguing with Gadi
Wrecked the house. Tried to enter the safe room. Couldn’t. For now they’ve gone
Regev’s been injured. He’s bleeding. Need HELP
My Dad’s a journalist and through him I sent a message to the Army spokesman
They’re here in my house QUICK PLEASE
Please come to our neighborhood
There are 3 or 4 terrorists here now! One used the toilet
They killed Yossi
They’re here a long time with knives
They’re pounding on the gas balloons outside my apartment
They’re going around with knives. Gadi is with them. They took from the house all they could
There’s at least one terrorist in our house apparently waiting for us to come out. We’re not intending to move.
Who has terrorists in their home now and about how many?
How can I know?
I don’t know how many – they’re still here
They’re in my house and I have no battery. Send someone here PLEASEEEEEE
Hi I have a friend who works in News 12 and they want to speak to someone from the Kibbutz…..
They should send the army instead of conduct interviews
They’re here, not making noise. They tried again the safe room door. They’re smashing and moving things, drilling in the walls. No idea how many there are. Where are the security forces? They are doing whatever they want and no-one is stopping them
They’re back taking everything apart
Sound of drilling outside my place
My home is on fire
Loads of them here trying to break into the safe room. Can someone tell me what’s going on???
They’re shooting from my porch I think
Why don’t they send troops already??? It’s already 2 hours. Where are all the units from the platoon???
Tell them to take their time. Nothing urgent – carry on taking selfies. I’ll tell Ahmed here outside to wait patiently
They disconnected the TV, they’re in the room next to the safe room trying to break in to the safe room
They’re burning my house too and I’m afraid to leave the safe room as they’re in the house
The terrorists are here and a burning smell
They’re burning our house HELP
They’re burning our house, they threw grenades HELP PLEASE
I’m injured waiting for HELP
Whoever can tell me on whatsapp where the terrorists are in real time, I’ll pass it on
The house is burning. What should I do??
please tell me that “THEY” is the army
The handle of the safe room is getting hot HELP URGENTLY
Still in my house. The house is apparently going up in smoke and I’m choking
We are on fire
Vered’s house is on fire and they’re in the safe room. HELP
Why are they leaving us to our fate? Where is the army?
The girls are choking
In my opinion they are still hiding in my house despite the smoke
Wounded HELP URGENT
My apartment’s on fire
Pass me as much info as possible of terrorists’ whereabouts and fires
Come quickly Itzik is wounded in his hand and losing blood
My house is burnt down
They’re shooting and trying to break into Amit and Shimi’s house
They’re shooting family ▇▇ inside the safe room
I spoke to Magen David Adom and with the Police they’re on the way to you. Hold on please
They’re shooting at us too
They’re burning our house too
We have no electricity and everything is burnt. What should we do?
Message from Eshkol Local Council:
Since this morning we are the victims of a coordinated terror attack. There are several serious incidents and several townships at the same time and sadly there are casualties. We are gathering information all the time from the townships and the security services are trying to reach the townships. This is an ongoing situation. Continue to stay home in the most protected place possible. Tell the authorities what is happening in your township. When the situation becomes clearer we will update. Be strong in this difficult hour and we look forward to good news soon.
My parents aren’t responding for a long time. Can someone please check on them.
Desperate for HELP
FYI – our ambulance has been taken to Gaza
The Fire Brigade has announced: if there is fire, don’t leave the safe room. You night feel you are choking but if you can’t see actual smoke you can survive for hours. If smoke comes in , lie low. Smoke rise. Most important to block the gap between the door and the floor with some insulating material. Block all openings to the safe room. Lock the safe room from inside and do not go out. Also if you feel you are choking stay inside – the safe room is fire-proofed.
In my opinion they are now here in my house plundering!!!!! Someone HELPPPP!!!!
The safe room door of family Z is burnt – someone should go there
They’re plundering here
Yoram and Pessia’s house burnt down. We came out of the safe room because Yoram couldn’t breathe. We’re sitting in the yard
There was an explosion outside after a few minutes of quiet
Terrorists in Chaim and Osnat’s safe room
Fire here too, the situation isn’t good. The children are suffering. If there’s help available, please send
Update that my officers are in Nir Oz which means that the security forces are here. Take care
Liat Send them the map. Everything is organized there. Injured terrorists everything
Does anyone know what’s happening? My kids aren’t answering. Eitan, David and Ariel. Does anyone know anything about my children. Their houses have been burnt down
We have a burning smell in the burnt room, can someone tell us if our house has been burnt down. PLEASE will someone ANSWER!!!!
Student Village. Ron hasn’t been in touch since this morning when he reported that there are terrorists in his house
Whoever is there reports that they’re ok. Contact with Ron was lost 3.5 hours ago
Our house was burnt down too
I left the doors open that they’d already been here
Help Eitan – they have no air
Tova is injured and is with us. Were out of the safe room
They are choking PLEASE HELP me…. They have no air already 2 hours. I think that they are in the fire
Itzik is injured, losing blood. Did anyone get to him? URGENT HELP PLEASE he’s not answering his phone. Has the army arrived?
What’s happening with the army? Where are they? Eitan and the girls and coking in the safe room. PLEEEAAASSSEEE
Please check what is happening with Efrat, Gidi and Doron who are with 2 small girls and there’s been no connection for over two hours!!
Here they’re burning our homes. Yakir is injured PLEASE can someone come
They’re choking us PLEASE HELP
We MUST have medical help MUST
PLEASE my family is choking where is the army???
My house is on fire
There’s also fire in almost all the apartments in the Student Village
Aryeh called to say that the house is on fire. We are in the safe room. Rivka and my two grandchildren. Keeping our morale.
To all the people of Nir Oz. We have been in a serious incident with casualties since this morning. According to the council and the army, military forces are supposed to arrive at any moment. Until there is control of the kibbutz, we have no ability to help everyone who needs it. Please follow the instructions and stay in the protected space (mamad). In the event of a fire in the house, do not leave the protected space. Put towels or clothes in the openings. pay attention! There is a significant chance that explosive charges were placed in the protected space doors. Do not leave without authorization.
Dear friends, it is quiet now and we have to wait in the protected space until the army clears the area. The terrorists have been here for a long time. We heard drilling and they may have set traps.
Sorry for the question, how do we know that the people who will enter the house this time are indeed from our forces?
Guys, does anyone know anything about my neighbours Julian and Guy? Guy has young kids….
We urgently need insulin for the safe room near the open house!!!
They are burning us
The army is going from house to house
I have a police force with me in the Kibbutz. Nobody leave their houses.We are combing (the area) with the police.We are coming to get (save) you.
Could someone please tell me how I will know it’s safe to leave the shelter
Please please get help to my parents
Will you start with the wounded?
Also Yair Yakov's house needs help, they're wounded and offline since 10am!
Don't leave the protected space!
Please… My mother, Carol, Gonny and and Tamary! They've stopped answering my calls!!!
Eitan is suffocating and can't open the protected space and the window, please help them!
Please check in the baby's house too.
Please go to Gidon, he's badly wounded
If anyone sees my son please send him back home to the kids, he isn't answering.
Yoram needs his inhaler. Drora has one, but there were no soldiers at her place, so she's shut in her safe room. Nir can you send soldiers to Drora''s house and all her row so we can get the machine, because Yoram can't breathe.
If the army arrives and identifies itself as instructed should we open the door?
At our place they just kicked the door in
Please come to our neighborhood. There are loud noises behind our house
Shouting in the direction of Diana's house
It looks like there are still terrorists in the area. And Irit wrote me and suddenly wrote not to write anything because there are terrorists there
Carmela and Drora's house is going up in flames and it's spreading!! Opposite Tova's room
Drora went outside
There's a huge fire at Hen and Michal's house
This is Galit. We got an update from ROn. He's in the safe room at his place, says there are terrorists in the house in the student village. Please send people there
The update from Ron is not relevant now it was a message that wasn't sent this morning. He's been rescued thank God
I think the roof of our house is still burning at the front
Are there soldiers at Nir Oz?
Does anyone know anything about Shulik and Rachel and the two caregivers?
At 10 am Sevita wrote to me that there are terrorists in the house now there's no answer.
Any information at all about Yossi and Margret please they don't answer as of this morning anything at all, please!
Is anyone near Yarden and Shiri? There's no contact with them and the family are worried about their safety. If anyone knows anything we'll be happy to update them
Does anyone know anything about my son?
Yamit he's okay. With the soldiers here
Please what about family ▇▇ It can't be possible that nobody has any information about them, there's been no contact since 10am
Rony we are all stuck in a state of not knowing
Published October 27 2023 in '7 Days' Magazine by Yediot Ahronot.
Digital adaptation by Dov Adar | Photo by Amir Cohen, REUTERS