The heroic efforts of Inbal Lieberman that helped save Kibbutz Nir Am

By Joseph Spier

(Proverbs 31:10) – “A woman of valour who can find? For her price is far above rubies.” 

(AJNews) – In the 1973 Yom Kippur War one lone Israeli tank commander was credited with slowing the Syrian advance into the Golan Heights to give the IDF sufficient time to bring reinforcements to the front and eventually push the Syrians back behind the 1967 ceasefire line. Israel is again at war and another hero is emerging. Her name is Inbal Lieberman.

Nir Am is a Kibbutz located in Southern Israel less than a kilometer from Sderot and a stone’s throw from Gaza. A vantage point nearby offers excellent views of the Gaza Strip. The Kibbutz was founded in 1943 by immigrants from central and eastern Europe. Over the years the kibbutz has also absorbed immigrants from Argentina, France and South Africa. Today its population is about 600. The economy of Nir Am is diverse, field crops, citrus groves, dairy cattle, as well as a factory for the making of fine cutlery. In addition, the Kibbutz has developed a tourist industry including a resort, a water museum and a pub.

Kibbutz Nir Am is no stranger to terrorism. Since as early as 2008, when a mortar fired from Gaza fell on the Kibbutz’s factory killing one and wounding four, the Kibbutz has been subject to sporadic rocket and mortar fire coming from Gaza.

Like every other Kibbutz and settlement, Nir Am has a Security Coordinator who heads a Security Team with responsibility for the safety of the Kibbutz in both routine and emergency situations right up until Israel Defense Forces or police forces can be mobilized. The safety of the Kibbutz rests significantly on the shoulders of the Security Coordinator.

Inbal Lieberman, was born and raised on the Kibbutz. The 25-year-old had served in IDF combat units and pursued her studies at the Women’s Leadership School. In December 2022, Inbal was appointed the Kibbutz’s Security Coordinator having succeeded her uncle, Ami Rabin in that role. Inbal broke the glass ceiling in that regard, becoming the first female Security Coordinator to ever be appointed by a Kibbutz. She also became the youngest person ever appointed to the position. When accepting the appointment Inbal was told by the head of the Regional Council, “I hope you won’t have much to do.” That would prove to be prophetically wrong.

Saturday, October 7, 6:30 in the morning, Inbal Lieberman was about to encounter the test of a lifetime. The rocket alarm goes off in Nir Am. Nothing new, the residents of the kibbutz are used to this. They run for the shelters. Inbal also goes into the shelter. Then she hears both rocket noises and other noises from outside, ones different from those heard during a usual rocket attack, more like explosions in the distance erupting from the ground not from the air. Inbal realized that something extraordinary and dangerous was going on.

Inbal springs into action. She collects her Security Team, 12 in number, leaves the security of the shelter, opens the armory and distributes weapons to her team.

The electricity in the Kibbutz had earlier gone off due to the rockets. Inbar’s first order was not to restore the power so as to prevent the gate in the Kibbutz’s security fence from being opened.

In 2014, the Israeli military had engaged in Operation Protective Edge, with the stated aim of staunching rocket fire from Gaza. At that time, in order to enhance the security of the Israeli communities near Gaza, including Nir Am, the Israel Defense Ministry built security fences surrounding each community.

Inbal’s first act was to go house to house to ensure that all the Kibbutz members were safely in bomb shelters or safe rooms. Inbal was then told to put her group on standby but she disobeyed and made a decision not to-wait. She sprang into action. That decision would ultimately save Nir Am and its inhabitants. Inbal was among the first in Israel to recognize the looming threat posed by Hamas terrorists.

Inbal deployed her group in strategic positions within the Kibbutz where they stood guard and waited for the inevitable terrorist attack. When it began and for the next three long hours Inbal and her team fought waves of terrorists who came within meters of the Kibbutz.

At some point during the battle, Inbal phoned her father, said she was hungry and asked for a sandwich. The call was perhaps made in jest to relieve the tension of the battle. In any event, her father left his safe room for the kitchen, cooked an omelette sandwich and at the height of the battle brought it to her.

Inbal and her team were able to repel the many terrorists who attacked Nir Am. At no time during the fierce gun battle was any terrorist able to breach the Kibbutz’s security fence. The battle ended after three hours when an Israeli army force arrived and stormed the terrorists.

Most media have reported that during the firefight, Inbal and her crew killed 25 terrorists. Haaretz takes issue claiming that social media has inflated the numbers. The newspaper writes that only one terrorist had been killed and one wounded. However, it does not matter if 25 terrorists were killed or only one was killed. What matters is that during the terrorist assault not one member of Kibbutz Nir Am was killed, not one wounded, not one abducted, no one.

As a result of the extraordinary heroism against heavy odds displayed by Inbal and her team, Kibbutz Nir Am and all of its members were saved. Nir Am was among the very few communities that terrorists attempted to enter but were completely repelled without harm.

Kibbutz Nir Am, as of the time of completion of this writing (October 16) is still in a war zone, as are all Israeli communities proximate to the Gaza border. Nir Am, now occupied by the IDF, is nearly completely evacuated by its residents. Inbal has taken her family to Tel Aviv where they are staying at a hotel designated for the evacuees. Hearing of her heroics, Tel Aviv mayor, Ron Huldai took the opportunity to meet Inbal and extend his personal commendation, following which he posted on his Facebook page, “Inbal is a heroine. Her story which is being published everywhere leaves no one indifferent – for her coolness, courage and bravery. Thanks to Inbal dozens of lives have been saved. Thanks to her, Kibbutz Nir Am was saved.”

But Inbal Lieberman is uneasy and uncomfortable wearing the crown of heroism. She refuses to give interviews and she is badly shaken as messages continue to come to her of friends in neighbouring communities who were massacred, taken as hostages or are missing. All she says is that she is not a hero and she wasn’t there by herself.

Inbal Lieberman is in every sense of the word a Woman of Valour, an Eishet Chayil.

Joe Spier is a Calgary-based retired lawyer and sometime writer with a keen interest in Jewish issues and history. 


Be the first to comment on "The heroic efforts of Inbal Lieberman that helped save Kibbutz Nir Am"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.