Thursday, 7 Dec 2023

British mum flees ‘apocalyptic’ Hamas attack as bullets fire at car

A British mother has opened up about the moment she fled through open fields in the middle of a gun battle with Hamas and Israel forces.

Debby Sharon has said she is “traumatised” from the events after being forced to leave her soldier son to fight on the frontline.

Ms Sharon fled to the family’s safehouse where she hid for over 36 hours while their village, a community of just 120 families four kilometres from the Gaza border, came under fire.

Sharon is now waiting anxiously for updates from her son Zohar, 27, who was called up on Sunday with his paratrooper unit one day after Hamas declared war on Israel.

Her home in Yeted is now one of several settlements made a closed military zone.

READ MORE: 17 Britons including children dead or missing in Israel after Hamas attacks

The British-born mother of four told The Times: “It was in those hours that I really understood the mentality my English mother had raised us with after having grown up during the Second World War and how she taught us to behave in emergencies.

“Nothing could have prepared us for this. The idea of ‘keeping our chin up’ and staying positive in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty; I could see it all taking place in those moments. I felt like I was playing out all those stories my mother had told me growing up.

“Trying to keep the kids calm, to stop them screaming, to stop them leaving, all this while we are together in a safe room, which was designed to keep us safe from rockets, not from terrorists, so it didn’t even lock from the inside.”

She said it was “apocalyptic” after looking out of the window to see people running away from their homes for safety.

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Conflict is familiar to Ms Sharon, having lived in Israel since she was five-years-old.

But Ms Sharon, a criminal lawyer, said the recent attacks brought the battlefield closer than she had ever known.

“It sounds crazy to say it but the rocket attacks we lived with before are not hard for us any more; you don’t feel it turns your life around — but when you know there are people around your house shooting, it is a different feeling altogether.

“I felt sick from the minute it started. You have all these thoughts of what could happen. If a rocket falls on you, there aren’t that many alternatives of what could happen,” she said.

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Her neighbourhood has been left unrecognisable, with hundreds of residents killed and homes burned to the ground.

“I can’t breathe yet, I can’t sleep — and it’s the first time, I admit, I’m traumatised,” she said. “My son is still serving and clearing out the area of what’s left of the worst kind of enemy that exists these days.”

But surprisingly, Ms Sharon said the family would return once the conflict had resolved.

“Leaving isn’t an option. It will take so much to build it up again, so many things have been diminished altogether and there will be a lot of work and getting through the trauma; learning how to sleep again, how to trust again,” she said.

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