Some fled on foot, but many were killed or taken hostage – city in shock after Hamas attack

By Isaac M October 10, 2023

Surrounded by destruction, and in the midst of a few local people dazed and frankly in shock after the events of Saturday and Hamas’s attack, I prepared to leave the city of Sderot.

Gunmen had careered through its streets on the back of four-wheel drives shooting up cars, killing drivers, and then dismounting and hunting down residents to either kill or take hostage and move to Gaza.

As I approached our vehicle, I caught sight of a hospital gurney somewhat haphazardly abandoned next to two cars.

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I decided to take a look and saw the gurney and two stretchers on the floor were covered in blood.

The two cars were riddled with bullets, their interiors splattered with blood.

In one vehicle I saw two children’s car seats, one for a baby, and another that looked like it belonged to a toddler.

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Around the cars were dozens of rubber gloves that had clearly been peeled off and thrown away.

I turned a corner and encountered a rabbi wearing a bulletproof vest, along with two assistants, who were tending to the bodies of what looked like two people rolled up, separately, in plastic.

They haven’t had time to identify and remove the victims yet. This type of scene isn’t uncommon in southern Israel at the moment.

Stuart Ramsay eyewitness

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There are pockets of destruction along the borderline with Gaza where the Hamas fighters breached the Israeli defensive system and wreaked havoc in towns, villages, and kibbutzim.

The numbers of people killed or missing continues to rise.

Survivors like Ytzhak Shitrit, who witnessed the attack in Sderot and hid in his home all day praying the gunmen wouldn’t find him, are suffering.

He was friendly when I approached him, and he told me what happened – in reality he can’t believe he survived.

“I was shocked, shocked, I heard the shooting, and I couldn’t believe it,” he said gesturing wildly.

“6am on a Saturday, on a holiday, it was scary, very scary.”

Stuart Ramsay eyewitness

He hid in his shelter. “We went inside immediately and then we heard the constant shooting, and it sounded like it was in our living room.”

Ytzhak lives opposite the main police station that was taken over by the Hamas gunmen who killed at least 20 police officers.

In the end the Israeli forces destroyed the police station to take back control.

In many ways it’s a symbol of a security system that simply failed.

Standing looking at the heap of mangled rubble, Major Doron Spielman came over and introduced himself to me.

“A couple hours ago there was shooting in this city, the place we are standing in now just yesterday women and children were gunned down and were dragged from here back to the Gaza Strip,” he explained to me.

“Even when we as the IDF, when one person is killed we take it as a personal loss and personal responsibility, here with hundreds of people being killed we will do the most thorough analysis we have ever done, we’ll make sure that never happens again, but that’s going to be for tomorrow, today we have to do everything to protect our civilians, restore peace to the people of Israel, and make sure Hamas never again do this carnage to the people of Israel.”

The road leading to Sderot is lined with family cars attacked by Hamas as they moved towards the city in this surprise attack.

Stuart Ramsay eyewitness
Image:
An abandoned car damaged by gunfire

The cars are abandoned where they were ambushed. Belongings are strewn across the road, and next to some cars pools of blood are dried in the hot sun, marking the tarmac.

A handful of vehicles are completely burnt out, inside police and army investigators were sifting through the remains, looking for clues to the identity of the owners and the victims.

Some people escaped on foot, but many were killed or taken hostage and driven the short distance to Gaza.

At a petrol station we came across SWAT teams, stationed here to try to retrieve hostages taken by Hamas and possibly still inside Israel – among them are negotiators.

But this is an ongoing war and you’re never far from it.

While we were filming the air reverberated to the sound of Israel’s Iron Dome air defence shield picking off rockets fired from Gaza.

And mingled within the noise was the sound of helicopter gunships firing into Gaza, attack drones in the skies, and jets carrying out regular sorties against Hamas targets in the Strip.

The defence forces are still securing the border but there is already a huge build-up of soldiers and hardware.

We watched as multiple armoured personnel carriers with Israeli flags attached, rumbled their way across the flat farmlands towards Gaza.

An Israeli incursion is coming, and it will be bloody.

The government is in no mood for mercy, and that will inevitably cost the lives of civilians.

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