When the rockets from Gaza started flying over his village in southern Israel at dawn on Saturday, Amir Tibon was not overly alarmed.
Mr. Tibon and his neighbors in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, a village that stands a few hundred yards from the Gaza Strip, have become accustomed to frequent rocket fire from militants in Gaza. Bomb shelters are installed in every home, and residents are used to rushing into them every few weeks.
But soon after Mr. Tibon, 35, took shelter on Saturday with his wife and two young daughters, he knew something was very different about this attack.
The sound of gunfire.
Then came a morbid realization.
“There were terrorists inside the kibbutz, inside our neighborhood and — at some point — outside our window,” Mr. Tibon recalled in a phone interview on Sunday morning. “We could hear them talk. We could hear them run. We could hear them shooting their guns at our house, at our windows.”
Palestinian militants had somehow crossed into Israel and had overrun the village.
On the village WhatsApp group, neighbors were posting frantic messages. “People were saying, ‘They are in my house, they are trying to break into the safe room!’” recalled Mr. Tibon, a prominent journalist.
Messages from fellow reporters revealed even more terrifying news. They said that Hamas, a militant group that controls Gaza, had infiltrated scores of Israeli border towns and that it would take time for the Israeli Army to reach the village.
Then came an unlikely glimmer of hope.
Mr. Tibon’s parents, who live in Tel Aviv, messaged to say they were on the way to rescue the family.
Dressed in civilian clothes and armed only with his pistol, Mr. Tibon’s father, Noam, had persuaded a group of Israeli commandos to let him join them as they tried to regain control of Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
In the early afternoon, the younger Mr. Tibon heard renewed gunfire. Israeli soldiers had entered the village, accompanied by his father, and were beginning to force the Palestinians out.
An hour later, there was a bang on the wall of their bomb shelter, Mr. Tibon said.
“And we heard my father say, ‘I’m here.’”