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EXCLUSIVE: British families living on border with Gaza describe constant fear of rocket attacks and Hamas gunmen – but explain why they refuse to move to safer parts of Israel
- Beverly Jamil and Steve Malnick are part of expat community in Ashkelon
- Israel Palestine news LIVE: Follow MailOnline’s live blog for the latest updates
British people living on the border with Gaza have described the constant threat of rocket attacks and fears of terrorist Hamas gunmen bursting into their homes, but they have explained why they are refusing to move to safer parts of Israel.
Beverley Jamil and Steve Malnick are part of a close-knit expat community that has set up home in Ashkelon, ten miles north of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave, which is so often target of militant attacks – where they are given just 15 seconds to take shelter after air raid sirens warn of incoming missiles.
Beverley says her and Steve walk around with automatic pistols strapped to their belts and barricade their homes at night.
But despite the horrific atrocities suffered close by and the clear danger they face, they are refusing to be moved to safer parts of Israel.
She told MailOnline: ‘This war has affected everyone in Israel. We all know someone who has been killed, captured or is missing.
Beverley Jamil and husband Rueven with their dogs
Israeli firefighters extinguish fire at a site struck by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Monday, Oct. 8, 2023.
Israelis evacuate a site struck by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Monday, Oct. 8, 2023
‘The first person I know that was killed was my best friend’s brother-in-law. He was shot dead while riding his motorbike in Sderot on Saturday morning.
‘Since then the number of people I know who have been killed or captured has been rising. But I won’t leave Ashkelon.
‘This is my home. This is where I met my husband, where I got married, where I brought up my daughters.’
Beverley, who is originally from Whitefield, Manchester, moved to Israel 41 years ago, after she fell in love with Rueven, the man who would become her husband during a visit to Israel with her Jewish youth group as a teenager.
The couple raised twin daughters, Noa and Efrat, who are now 26 and live in a comfortable bungalow with their three Shih Tzu dogs.
However, the shocking events of Saturday – when Hamas terrorists attacked innocent people at a music festival, beheaded babies, killing at least 1,3000 people and took hostages – have left the family reeling.
Beverley Jamil and Rueven at home with their dogs. Despite the horrific atrocities suffered close by and the clear danger they face, they are refusing to be moved to safer parts of Israel
Beverley Jamil and Rueven. Beverley says her and Steve Malnick walk around with automatic pistols strapped to their belts and barricade their homes at night
Beverley at home with her pets. She told MailOnline: ‘This war has affected everyone in Israel. We all know someone who has been killed, captured or is missing’
Steve Malnick, a gastric surgeon, said: ‘My rental apartment was hit the other day. The windows were smashed and cars parked outside were burnt to a cinder’
Destruction to Steve’s apartment in Ashkelon
Debris on a car parked outside Steve’s apartment in Ashkelon. Ashkelon residents are given just 15 seconds to take shelter after air raid sirens warn of incoming missiles
Beverley has barely left her home since. A volunteer ambulance driver, she monitors the security situation from a walkie talkie. Rueven wears an automatic pistol on his belt at all times.
She explained: ‘My brother still lives in Manchester. He’s worried about me.
‘We don’t know how many terrorists got into Israel and how many are still at large.
‘Every night we lock down the house and put a mattress in front of the door.
READ MORE: Israel tells 1.1MILLION people in Northern Gaza to evacuate south within 24 hours as it prepares to launch ground assault and continues bombardments – which Hamas claims have killed 13 hostages since yesterday
‘My husband carries a pistol. He doesn’t want to use it, but he will if he has to.
‘Anyone could knock on the door and it could be a terrorist. We are scared.
‘What happened on Saturday was barbaric.
‘It was a massacre.
‘On Saturday morning at about 6.30am we heard the siren and we did what we always do. We went into the shelter and waited for the all-clear.
‘After a few more rocket attacks I got dressed and prepared to go to work as a volunteer driver for Magen David Adom, Israel’s ambulance service.
‘But my twin daughters both called me; ‘You’re not going out today,’ they said. It’s not just rockets, there are terrorists that have infiltrated Israel from Gaza,’ they told me.
‘Then we put the TV on and we learned there had been massacres.
‘I know of ambulance workers who have been shot and injured. One was hit by gun-fire another was hit by shrapnel. Fortunately they both survived.’
She continued: ‘We haven’t been able to take the dogs out for a walk. They get frightened too. They tremble with fear.
‘When the sirens go off we have 15 to 30 seconds to get to the shelter before the missiles get to Ashkelon.
‘But this time there are terrorists inside Israel and you don’t get 30 seconds to shelter from gunfire.
‘It’s too scary for words. Now we sleep in the safe room with the dogs.
Beverley Jamil and Rueven
Beverley Jamil and Rueven with their pets
Beverley Jamil and Rueven at home watching the news
‘My nephew has cancelled his wedding that was supposed to take place next week. No one wants to sing and dance when we are at war.
‘But I won’t leave Ashkelon. This is my home.
‘We need to destroy Hamas, not normal Palestinian families.’
READ MORE: Astonishing moment IDF elite force retakes military post overrun by Hamas, rescuing 250 hostages, killing 60 Hamas fighters and capturing top terror leader
Steve Malnick, a gastric surgeon, also moved to Israel for love.
He left Kenton, north London, 37 years ago to marry Israeli Aliza who he had met while travelling.
The couple have raised three children, Ella, 36, Shelley, 32, and Shimon, 30 and set up home in Ashkelon.
Steve, 65, takes shelter in ditches by the side of the road as he commutes to the hospital in the town of Rehovof where he works.
He told MailOnline: ‘Every day when I am driving to and from my hospital I have to stop the car and dive in a ditch to take cover from the missile attacks.
‘My rental apartment was hit the other day. The windows were smashed and cars parked outside were burnt to a cinder.
‘My tenants – a man, his wife and their two children – have been staying at my home.
‘But no terrorist is going to tell me where I can live.
‘Ashkelon is my home. I have family and friends there. I’m not going to move.
‘I am not ready to die. I want to live to see Tottenham Hotspur win the league!’
Steve recalled how Hamas almost thwarted his daughter Ella’s wedding ten years ago, but it still went ahead.
He explained: ‘Ten years ago there was another war with Hamas.
‘The authorities banned all gatherings of more than 100 people because they would become targets for the terrorists.
‘So the wedding venue that we had booked in Ashkelon had to cancel.
Briton Stephen Malnick and his wife and their grown-up children. Left to right: Shimon, Ella, Aliza, Shelley and Stephen
Gastric surgeon expat Briton Stephen Malnick with his medical team. Malnick is standing in the middle with a yellow lanyard
Beverley Jamil and Rueven with one of their dogs at home
Beverley Jamil and Rueven with their dogs sat against a propped up mattress
‘But I found a hotel in Tel Aviv that would take us. The manager told us he would not take a penny more than the price we had agreed on in Ashkelon.
‘There was a suicide bomber outside the wedding hall.
‘My son Shimon was serving in the paratroop regiment and was in Gaza.
‘We thought he would not be able to make it. His regiment was about to attack.
‘But his commanding officer gave him leave and I drove down to Gaza to pick him up.
‘When I got to the army base the soldiers told me I had a puncture. I got out of the car to fix it but the soldiers would not let me get dirty so they changed the wheel for me.
‘Shimon had not washed or changed his clothes for a week.
‘But I got him home put him in the shower and took him to the wedding. He made it!
‘This is our lives. We live with this terrorist threat every day but we will not give in. We will not surrender.’
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