The Night Hamas Struck Nir Oz, Unleashing Unprecedented Hostage Horror
Nir Oz attack

In Nir Oz’s Hamas hostage raid, Eyal Barad’s chilling choice to silence his daughter for survival reflects the enduring impact of the October 7 horror, with over 30 Israelis still captive.

By Lori Hinnant and Sam McNeil, AP

The engineer and his family cowered in the safe room, dark except for a red remote-control light because they feared the gunmen outside the door would notice anything brighter.

Eyal Barad had just reconfigured the settings on a homemade traffic camera from his cell phone to monitor the Hamas attack unfolding in the kibbutz of Nir Oz. But his 6-year-old autistic daughter — hiding in the room with him, her mother and her two siblings — could not understand that their lives depended upon silence. Her cries were building into near-screams.

Barad wrapped his arms around the girl, covered her mouth tightly, and looked over her head to his wife. His whispered, agonized question: Should he cut her airflow long enough to knock her unconscious, to keep everybody alive?

But he couldn’t risk killing her. He resolved: “We all go, or we all survive.”

Eight weeks into the Israel-Gaza war, the recent release of dozens of Israeli hostages – with as many still in captivity – is bringing new focus on what Hamas did on Oct. 7, the day its fighters rounded them up from communities across southern Israel.

The kibbutz of Nir Oz is perhaps the best place to understand Hamas’ hostage strategy, an operation that was unprecedented both in scope and execution.

For Israelis, Nir Oz stands out as the embodiment of their country’s vulnerability that day, with the absence of Israeli soldiers, the capture of unprotected civilians, their deaths and disappearance into Gaza, and their subsequent exchange for Palestinians. More than 100 Palestinian militants left Nir Oz with some 80 of its roughly 400 residents.

That means people from the kibbutz made up a third of the 240 hostages taken in all and nearly half of the Israelis released, with more than 30 still believed to be in Gaza.

Around 20 Nir Oz residents were killed on Oct. 7, and news of the death of some of them in Gaza has started to trickle in.

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