Eran Smilansky hid in his closet when a pair of Hamas terrorists stormed his home at Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7.
He was behind the last door they opened. He surprised them, and shot them both.
When six more arrived, he picked them off one by one in a deadly game of hide and seek.
And later, he and a friend managed to pluck dozens of kibbutz residents from their blazing homes, which had been set alight by the terrorists.
Smilansky, 27, is a potato grower and a member of the kibbutz’s first response team.
He heard a barrage of rockets at 6:30am, followed by shooting, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and shouting in Arabic.
He knew he had to hide and surprise the terrorists.
“I had only 35 bullets for my weapon, which is nothing. It’s only to save yourself,” he said. “I knew I had to catch them before they caught me.
“They took an hour or two to first steal everything I have in my house. Even before they came looking for me they stole everything they could and broke everything they could.
“Then they stopped shouting and they started to talk quietly. At that moment I understood that they were coming for me.”
The terrorists went looking for him in the safe room and his bedroom.
“I heard them looking for me inside the closet, under the bed. And I was behind the last door, the closet.
“Two terrorists opened the door, they saw me, they were very shocked. I jumped out of the door and very quickly shot them.”
Six more Hamas members rescued the injured men. Eran told how he shot and hid, shot and hid, as he moved around his house and balcony.
He then exchanged fire with a Hamas sniper.
Throughout the ordeal he was receiving calls from other kibbutz members: “You have to come to help us because we are going to die.”
They were trapped in their safe rooms and their homes were on fire.
He and an unarmed friend put wet towels over their faces and saved many lives, but in some cases they could do nothing.
“We saw everything, dead people, live people,” he said. “There were families where they killed both parents and the little kids died from smoke.
“We were looking for terrorists because we didn’t know if they were still there or not. Every minute, every second, I was expecting the IDF. I was sure they were coming.”
But the Israeli army had been overwhelmed by the estimated 3,000 terrorists who broke through the border fence, and it was many hours before soldiers arrived.
“It feels like a stab in the back, from the army and from the government,” said Smilansky. “And a stab in the back from the Palestinians who were working with us in the fields and in construction on the kibbutz. We know that all the intelligence came to Gaza from those people.”