At least 10 terrorists were inside private homes in Ofakim, a town in Southern Israel on Saturday and exchanging fire with troops that were surrounding them. security forces and residents were said to be among the dead after armed Palestinians infiltrated the town in the coordinated Hamas offensive. special forces units were attempting to negotiate with the terrorists who were holding hostages.
"They are in my friend's home. He and his wife was killed and they are holding his son hostage," Meir Siboni, a resident of Ofakim said. "I saw pictures from inside the house and recognized my friend. I was at home and heard the gunfire. The government has to do something," he said.
Another resident, whose father and brother were injured said they had just come out of the shelter after a rocket attack when a terrorist fired a round at them. "A soldier tried to stop him and he was shot. We started running. My Dad took two bullets to his leg and my brother helped him escape before he too was shot," he said. "We could not enter our building as the shooting continued for another two hours. We then waited for another hour and a half before the ambulances arrived," he said.
Tali Haddad, also from Ofakim said her son was wounded by the terrorists as they entered the town. "We heard the sirens at 6 am and my son, who just completed his officers' course in the IDF, grabbed his gun and began running. We followed and heard gunfire in the nearby park, where the terrorists were shooting at anyone who passed. Luckily many people were inside the synagogues because of the holiday, " she said. "I ran after my son from one place to the next and when he chased terrorists, he was shot in the abdomen. Others were also hurt.
Haddad said she saw a terrorist dressed in a bright orange vest, throw a smoke grenade into a shelter. "I begged security forces to engage with him but they did not and he moved on and entered a home," she said.
As of 5.30 pm, the military had not yet taken control of seven communities, cities and military bases in the south as forces were deployed to the area. Security officials say it would take hours before all of them are back under their control and perhaps days before the open areas near the Gaza border and in the northern Desert are confirmed to be without terror squads.
Dozens of senior IDF reserve officers have been called up including generals serving in the Air Force and in infantry units. Some were being sent to the north amid concerns that Hezbollah might join the fighting from across the Lebanon border.