Bordering Gaza, Netiv Haasara was once synonymous with peace, a community founded by Israelis. This community was founded in 1982 by Israelis who were displaced from their homes in the Sinai Peninsula. But the community was shocked by the October 7 attack, when thirty-five Hamas militants attacked the village, many of them crossing the border fence. They bombed several houses and killed 20 of the community's 800-some residents. Since that terrible day, residents of Netiv Haasara were forced to evacuate as the surrounding area turned into a war zone.
The Israeli farmer and survivor is Hila Fenlon, who was born in the Sinai Peninsula and moved to Netiv Haasara when she was 5 years old when Sinai became part of Egypt under an agreement with Israel. Decades later she was forced to leave their home again, but this time not for peace.
"We had our quiet life, you know, when we woke up one Saturday and realized that the second Holocaust happened to us. It is not something easy. But the only strength we can show is to overcome it. If we surrender, it means that they have".
Hila also recounts the hours of terror they experienced when the militants launched the bombings.
"12 hours after it all started, the terrorists, four of them, entered my house. I was there with my two children, my partner and the dogs. People were screaming, trying to escape. They threw grenades, shot at us and killed some of them. This community lost 20 members".
As she walked through the village, she described what had happened to the families who lived there, some who managed to hide and survive, some who lost their lives. Regardless of what was ingrained in her memories of October 7, Fenlon has also vowed to return home.
The attack has also left a bitter memory for another resident, 38-year-old Benny Vainer, who was a television producer and now carries a gun for fear of another possible attack.
"When the attack started, I started to hear shots from inside the village. I get my family, I go get the gun from the safe. And if the terrorists had come to me, I would have died. I teach my children just believe in peace, want peace but not with terrorist groups. I don't believe in peace with the terrorist group, with the criminal gangs".
Once Netiv Haasara was also a tourist attraction, a place where goods and people flowed in daily from the northern Gaza Strip, but now it has taken on a gloomy appearance. Although subjected to occasional rockets from the border, the residents of the agrarian community continue their lives.