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Israeli mother, veteran devoted to defending border as nation reels from surprise attack: ‘I never imagined’

EXCLUSIVE – Israeli security expert, mother and veteran Sarit Zehavi, who has dedicated her life to protecting Israeli borders, said the terror attacks on Saturday were far worse than what she long considered the “worst-case scenario” for her people, who have made endured a culture of living under constant threat.

“This is something that I never imagined,” Zehavi told Fox News Digital. “I thought that this will be stopped immediately. I didn’t imagine that many infiltrators at the same time, to so many places.”

Zehavi sent away her children to the center of the small country – Israel is slightly larger than the state of New Jersey – since the war between Israel and Hamas started.

“This is the surprise that we had. But in general, the fact that the terrorist organizations on our borders are planning to invade and to launch barrages of rockets, thousands of rockets to the state of Israel, it’s not news. I raised my kids in the north under the threat of these rockets,” she said. “Now my kids, by the way, are not here. I sent them to the center of Israel few days ago because I knew this is coming.” 


Sarit Zehavi

Israeli security expert Sarit Zehavi spoke to Fox News Digital from a shelter in Tefen Industrial Park in Western Galilee, only 12 kilometers from the Israeli-Lebanese border.

On Saturday, Hamas terrorists committed the worst attack on Israel in its 75-year history, killing at least 1,200, many of them civilians, and taking upwards of 150 hostages. The attack came from Gaza in the south, after Zehavi and others spent years preparing for attacks from the north.

“I didn’t believe that the same thing can happen from the south,” she said.

After spending 15 years in the Israeli Defense Forces, Zehavi founded the Israeli nonprofit Alma, which specializes in educating on Israel’s security challenges along its northern border. She spoke to Fox News Digital from Tefen Industrial Park in Western Galilee, only 12 kilometers from the Israeli-Lebanese border, with constant alerts going off as Israeli residents in her area were told to shelter in place amid reports of an incoming “large-scale” drone attack as other terror groups look to join Hamas.


“The border of the north is not quiet. Soldiers already got killed. We had few attacks with anti-tanks, with rockets, with the infiltration of terrorists. And if we will not be completely prepared on northern border, we’re going to get the same catastrophe that happened in the south,” Zehavi said.

“Now this is very clear. On the other side of the border is Hamas, there is Palestinian Islamic jihad, and mainly there is Hezbollah,” Zehavi explained. “And the military capabilities of Hezbollah are ten times more… than the military capabilities of Hamas.”

Israelis already witnessed unspeakable acts of terrorism committed by Hamas during Saturday’s devastating attack, and Zehavi is concerned Hezbollah terrorists are even more capable. 

“The terrorists are much more experienced because they were fighting in Syria in the civil war. They are not only trained, they are experienced and motivated… They are also crazy lunatics with high military capabilities, and they’re already starting to shoot at us.”

Zehavi believes Iran is the “the mastermind in this campaign,” and the only surprise was where the assault originated.

Israel requires every Jewish citizen who is over the age of 18 to serve in the IDF. Druze and Circassian men are also required to serve, and Israelis who don’t fall into these groups can volunteer. But for Jewish citizens, serving in IDF is a way of life that most are proud to embrace. 


Debris after building were hit with Hamas rockets.

Aftermath of destroyed buildings after Hamas launched rockets at Sderot, Israel on October 10, 2023. (Photo by Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“It’s a commitment, we are obliged to serve in the army,” she said. “Many people, those who are not in the Army, volunteer to assist. There is so much that could be done to assist the soldiers, to assist the civilians that are under fire. It’s so important.”

Zehavi is grateful that the United States has stood with Israel, but urged Americans not to forget the atrocities that occurred on Saturday. 

“After we will move from defense to offense in order to eliminate the risk to the state of Israel and to the citizens of Israel — don’t forget how all of that started. Don’t forget why we are doing what we’re doing, because radical ideologies Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad cannot exist next to innocent civilians. Eventually they kill them,” she said.

Fox News’ Greg Norman and David Rutz contributed to this report. 


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