OFAKIM, ISRAEL – On Saturday, Oct. 7, the horrific day of the Hamas invasion, David and Rachel Edry – a retired Jewish couple living in the small Israeli community of Ofakim near the Gaza border – woke up to the sounds of explosions and automatic gunfire.
They were distant at first, but getting closer.
Rachel immediately called their son, Evi, a police officer, to find out what was going on.
It was barely 7 a.m. in the morning and Evi told his mother not to be concerned.
It was probably Israeli soldiers fighting Hamas across the border.
But Rachel said the fighting was getting closer.
HIS NEIGHBORS WERE BEING SLAUGHTERED
Suddenly, the phone went dead.
Now Evi was worried.
Grabbing his sidearm, he left his girlfriend’s house about a kilometer away from his parents.
By the time he got to the neighborhood where he grew up, Hamas terrorists had overrun Ofakim.
His neighbors were being slaughtered.
Police were streaming in from all directions.
When Evi finally reached his house, he was sickened to discover that five terrorists had taken his parents hostage in a siege that would last for almost 20 hours.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet Evi and hear his story in his own words, at his parents’ house.
RACHEL EDRI: A TRUE ISRAELI HERO
And as you’ll see in this video, what a powerful, moving and truly miraculous story it is.
It’s a story of Evi's mother binding up the wounds of one of the terrorists.
And serving them coffee and cookies.
And cooking for them.
And singing songs to them.
To calm them down.
To keep them from getting hungry and, thus, more angry.
To buy desperately needed time for Israeli special forces to arrive on the scene, assess the situation, get into position and hopefully rescue them.
She did so even though, at times, one of the terrorists had his arm around her neck.
And pulled the pin on a hand grenade and held it to the side of her head, threatening to let go and blow her and her husband – and himself – to smithereens.
Yet, she remained cool.
She stayed focused.
She secretly signaled to her son that there were a total of five terrorists in the house.
And she kept finding ways to distract the terrorists and get them to back off from doing some rash and deadly.
What a remarkable, heroic woman, we remarked.
“That’s my mama, that’s my mama,” Evi told us, his voice thick with emotion.
Indeed, Rachel Edry is now one of the most famous women in Israel.
Her story has been covered by every news outlet in the country.
She’s now a national hero.
“We were all really depressed,” Evi told us, because of all the friends, neighbors and colleagues who were slaughtered by Hamas.
“But my mom, she makes Israel, and the people of Israel – and people all over the world – she’s a symbol of hope.”
“Because she kept smiling and kept a good and positive mindset.”
“IT’S A MIRACLE”
The crazy thing is, Rachel Edry’s plan worked.
The terrorists kept eating.
Kept drinking coffee.
And then, just after 3 a.m. in the morning, Israeli SWAT team members – from an elite commando unit known as Yamam – used explosives, stun grenades and heavy machine gunfire to burst into the house, catching the five Hamas members completely by surprise.
David Edry jumped on his wife of more than 40 years, covering her with his body to protect her.
Within seconds, the commandos killed all five terrorists.
Rescued David and Rachel.
And returned to a shocked and grateful young man, his parents – alive, resilient, and unharmed.
As Evi finished telling his astonishing story, I had to ask him this question.
“Why do you think these particular five terrorists let 19 hours go by?” I asked. “I mean, thank God, I’m just saying, that wasn’t happening in most other places.”
Evi said that’s a question that he and others have been asking themselves.
It really doesn’t make sense.
All throughout Israeli towns and farms along the Gaza border, Hamas terrorists were raping, killing, burning, beheading and kidnapping Israeli and foreign civilians without a second thought and without any remorse.
Yet these terrorists holed up in the Edry’s house for nearly 20 hours.
And were engaged in ongoing negotiations with an Israeli Arab soldier – even as the whole house was surrounded by the IDF and the Israel Police – desperately trying to bargain for their safe release and return to the Gaza Strip.
The only answer he can come up with is this:
“It’s a miracle,” Evi said.
“I think God himself came down here [from heaven] and saved my parents.”
I couldn’t agree more.
How else can one explain it?
A SCENE OF DEVASTATION AND HOPE
After Evi told the story in great detail and with passion – moving us at times to tears and at times to laughter – I, then, toured his parents’ house with my cameraman from THE ROSENBERG REPORT, my weekly TV show on TBN.
There are hundreds of bullet holes in the walls.
One wall is charred from the blast of a hand grenade.
All the windows are shattered.
All the furniture is overturned and there is debris and shards of glass everywhere.
The floors and walls were still soaked, and stained, and splattered with blood.
But only the blood of the terrorists.
I’ve never seen anything like it.
A scene of such devastation and a scene of such hope.
And I have to say – as an Israeli, as a Jew, as an Evangelical – I became quite emotional.
I had been invited by my friend, Danny Danon – a Member of Knesset and the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations – to join a small group of foreign ambassadors and international reporters to visit the Israeli communities of Sderot and Ofakim situated close to the border with the Gaza Strip.
I thought we’d just been invited to see the sites where so many savage Hamas attacks and barbaric massacres had taken place.
And we certainly saw those.
But I had not expected to hear any good news.
I had not expected to hear the story of a rescue.
And a miraculous rescue, at that.
But I’m so glad I did.
I strongly encourage you to watch this video in full.
Then, please share it with family and friends in your home, at your workplace and on social media.
People need to know the war crimes that Hamas has committed here, as the total number of deaths in Israel tops 1,300 and some 3,500 Israelis and foreigners have been wounded.
But they also need to know stories about how God graciously rescued people like the Edry family.
And why we need to keep praying night and day for the hostages who were taken from Israel and being held by Hamas in Gaza, that the Lord will truly “set the captives free.” (Isaiah 61:1)
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Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.