October massacre changed everything – including silence about terror
The terror attacks I’ve witnessed in Israel since making aliya from South Africa more than 35 years ago will forever be embedded in my mind.
Serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and then in the Israel Police, my recollections aren’t just personal reflections, but mirrored by so many, for so long. Reflections that fused anger, distress, depression, fear, guilt at times, and resentment, but always courage and hope for a better and more secure future.
Fulfilling a childhood dream and immigrating to Israel, I believed I knew everything I needed to about this wonderful country’s establishment, its successes, innovation, people from diverse backgrounds, start-ups, technology, and indeed wars, and the terror that took place before I was even born.
I witnessed firsthand the Gulf War; the first and second Palestinian uprisings and resulting carnage; and the violence of ongoing suicide terror by Hamas and other terrorist groups for so long, who really are all under the same umbrella no matter what they call themselves.
I thought I had seen everything both while serving in the IDF and thereafter as an Israeli police officer working through the turmoil and violence of organised crime; human trafficking; and without any doubt, the most extreme and violent terror that a human being can witness throughout the 16 gruesome terror attacks of carnage and bloodshed that I witnessed personally until my retirement in early 2006.
On Friday, 6 October 2023, my dad, Ronny, was buried at West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg. He was hospitalised for several weeks prior to his passing, and on every occasion that we spoke during that time, he told me to look after myself and the family here in Israel in a manner that he never did. His message was, indeed, very different to the usual greetings he sent, subconsciously and seemingly a warning considering the turmoil Israel was going through internally.
On the morning of Saturday, 7 October 2023, even though I hadn’t been in service for more than 16 years, I started to receive calls and requests from friends asking me if I knew what was taking place in the kibbutzim and areas on the border with Gaza. I was asked to try and find information on children whose parents couldn’t reach them telephonically. I was asked to try and locate their cars and any information I could. I started to hear and see chatter from active and retired police officers as to the chaos and carnage taking place.
Nothing could have prepared me for the ultimate result and sheer unimaginable scale of the terror attack carried out by packs of brutal raging murderers, rapists, and sadists called Hamas.
This terror attack and, indeed, declaration of war against the people of Israel, Jews, and other sane and understanding citizens of the world shouldn’t serve as a trigger for critical conversation between generations to come, nor should it create echoes of past events that were too painful to discuss or show until now, it should be heard and seen everywhere, every day.
The terror events I witnessed, including the 2002 Passover terror attack in Netanya, have largely been forgotten by most.
On Saturday, 7 October2023, the world witnessed a massacre carried out by Hamas baby killers, cowards, and murderers.
There were others who helped them, and there were indeed those who incited, trained, and funded them.
For our children to live their dreams, we need to have our kidnapped hostages returned, they need to be made safe first. The world needs to know and understand our history and our future, as understanding history allows us to correct our mistakes in the future. We cannot and shouldn’t make the same mistakes again. Hamas must be eliminated.
This very dark period of Israel’s existence must be shown and broadcast in every manner possible. The events that led up to, and indeed the mass murders of 7 October, must be taught to all children and future generations around the world so that it can never happen again.
The terror and carnage I witnessed as a first responder for such a long time was something that wasn’t spoken about, discussed, communicated, publicly documented, or revealed in detail. The terror that took place on 7 October 2023 and indeed continues today almost six weeks later, mustn’t be bound to a code of silence, it mustn’t be bound to political correctness.
It’s necessary to document and reveal the truth about the terror and its never-ending history, and to do it in detail.
The events of 7 October 2023 shouldn’t be lost among the mass anti-Israel propaganda war Israel is fighting.
Israel’s colourful, non-fiction story of a defiant stance in a struggle for the most basic civil right of all – the right to live – must be kept alive.
In every terror attack I witnessed, I saw blood and carnage in ways that were hard to describe. I sometimes recognised people I knew or had seen previously that were killed and physically torn apart or terribly wounded. Many of these experiences were too difficult to describe, and I’ll carry the images forever in my mind.
The massacre and carnage of the Hamas terror attack on 7 October and the resulting war on Hamas has changed everything, for me, for Israel, and indeed the world.
I can only imagine as a first responder how the police and others pushed their vehicles to get to the many different terror scenes as fast as possible. I can only imagine them loudly calling via police radio for assistance and focusing on arriving at the scene to deal with the situation, save lives, and neutralise the threat. I can only imagine these brave Israel Police officers and other emergency responders finding a scene of chaos, carnage, death, and insanity carried out by savages called Hamas, with premeditated intent to kill.
Nothing on earth can prepare you for the type of terror event first responders witnessed. Nothing resembles the aftermath of the atrocity. This was an act of terror inspired by extreme cruelty, designed to ensure that maximum physical violence and death rate was imposed, and they, Hamas, documented it all.
The physical and mental injuries will be ever-lasting for all of us. This wasn’t just an act of terror, but a declaration of war, a war that will be won by Israel, and a war that will be won for all who cherish freedom and peace.
We support our IDF soldiers and other agency heroes who are now making sure that we’ll never have the likes of these terrorists on our borders or in our lives.
I salute my fellow police officers, my friends, brothers, and sisters who responded and reacted to a situation that wasn’t normal by any means. I salute the bravery of the male and female heroes in the Israel Police.
I salute every first responder on the streets of Israel, in effect the last line of defence for Israeli civilians. The police, comprised of all faiths and religions, are on the frontlines of an ongoing, difficult battle, not only reacting and responding to classic crime but proactively thwarting terror and saving lives at all costs.
- Marc Kahlberg is a South African-born retired police officer who is now working as a volunteer in the Israel Police international spokespersons unit.