Britons living on the Gaza border have described the constant threat of rocket attacks and fear of armed Hamas terrorists breaking into their homes, but have explained why they refuse to move to safer parts of Israel.
Beverley Jamil and Steve Malnick are part of a tight-knit expat community that has settled in Ashkelon, ten miles north of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave so often targeted by militant attacks, where they have only 15 seconds to take shelter after that air raid sirens warn of the arrival of missiles.
Beverley says she and Steve walk around with automatic pistols strapped to their belts and barricade their homes at night.
But despite the horrific atrocities suffered nearby and the clear danger they face, they refuse to be transferred to safer areas of Israel.
She told MailOnline: ‘This war has affected everyone in Israel. We all know someone who has been killed, captured or disappeared.
Beverley Jamil and her husband Rueven with their dogs
Israeli firefighters extinguish a fire at a site hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Monday, October 8, 2023.
Israelis evacuate a site hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Monday, October 8, 2023.
‘The first person I know who was murdered was my best friend’s brother-in-law. He was shot dead while riding his motorcycle in Sderot on Saturday morning.
‘Since then, the number of people I know who have been killed or captured has been increasing. But I won’t leave Ashkelon.
‘This is my home. This is where I met my husband, where I got married and where I raised my daughters.’
Beverley, originally from Whitefield, Manchester, moved to Israel 41 years ago, after falling 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 their twin daughters, Noa and Efrat, who are now 26 years old 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, killed at least 1,3000 people and took hostages – have left the family stunned.
Beverley Jamil and Rueven at home with their dogs. Despite the horrific atrocities suffered nearby and the clear danger they face, they refuse to be transferred to safer areas of Israel.
Beverly Jamil and Rueven. Beverley says she and Steve Malnick walk around with automatic pistols strapped to their belts and barricade their homes at night.
Beverly at home with her pets. She told MailOnline: ‘This war has affected everyone in Israel. We all know someone who has been murdered, captured or disappeared.’
Steve Malnick, a gastric surgeon, said: “My rental flat was attacked the other day. Windows were smashed and cars parked outside were burned to ashes.
Destruction of Steve’s apartment in Ashkelon
Remains of a car parked outside Steve’s apartment in Ashkelon. Ashkelon residents have just 15 seconds to take shelter after air raid sirens warned of incoming missiles.
Beverly has barely left the house since then. As a volunteer ambulance driver, she monitors the safety situation from a walkie talkie. Ella rueven carries an automatic pistol on her belt at all times.
She explained: ‘My brother still lives in Manchester. He’s worried about me.
‘We do not know how many terrorists entered Israel and how many are still at large.
‘Every night we close the house and put a mattress in front of the door.
‘My husband carries a gun. He doesn’t want to use it, but he will if he has to.
‘Anyone could knock on the door and they could be a terrorist. We are scared.
‘What happened on Saturday was outrageous.
‘It was a massacre.
‘On Saturday morning around 6:30am we heard the siren and did what we always do. We entered the shelter and waited for everything to be 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 called me; “You’re not going out today,” they told me. “It’s not just rockets, there are terrorists who have infiltrated Israel from Gaza,” they told me.
“Then we turned on the television and found out that there had been massacres.
‘I know of ambulance workers who have been injured by gunfire. One was hit by gunshots and another by shrapnel. Fortunately they both survived.
And he continued: ‘We haven’t been able to take the dogs for a walk. They get scared too. They tremble with fear.
‘When the sirens sound we have between 15 and 30 seconds to reach the shelter before the missiles reach Ashkelon.
‘But this time there are terrorists inside Israel and you don’t have 30 seconds to protect yourself from gunfire.
‘It’s too scary for words. Now we sleep in the safe room with the dogs.
Beverly Jamil and Rueven
Beverly Jamil and Rueven with their pets
Beverley Jamil and Rueven at home watching the news
‘My nephew has canceled his wedding, which was due to take place next week. Nobody wants to sing and dance when we are at war.
But I will not abandon Ashkelon. This is my home.
“We need to destroy Hamas, not normal Palestinian families.”
Steve Malnick, a gastric surgeon, also moved to Israel for love.
He left Kenton, north London, 37 years ago to marry Israeli Aliza, whom he met while travelling.
The couple raised three children, Ella, 36, Shelley, 32, and Shimon, 30, and settled in Ashkelon.
Steve, 65, takes shelter in ditches on the side of the road as he heads to the hospital in the city of Rehovof, where he works.
He told MailOnline: ‘Every day when I drive to and from my hospital I have to stop the car and dive into a ditch to protect myself from missile attacks.
‘My rental apartment was attacked the other day. Windows were smashed and cars parked outside were burned to ashes.
‘My tenants (a man, his wife and their two children) have stayed in my house.
‘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’m 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 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 terrorists.
‘So the wedding venue we had booked in Ashkelon had to cancel.
The British Stephen Malnick, his wife and their older children. From left to right: Shimon, Ella, Aliza, Shelley and Stephen.
British expatriate gastric surgeon Stephen Malnick with his medical team. Malnick is standing in the middle with a yellow cord.
Beverley Jamil and Rueven with one of their dogs at home
Beverley Jamil and Rueven with their dogs sat against a propped mattress
But I found a hotel in Tel Aviv that would accept us. The manager told us that he would not accept a penny more than the price we had agreed upon in Ashkelon.
‘There was a suicide bomber outside the wedding hall.
‘My son Shimon was serving in the parachute regiment and was in Gaza.
‘We thought he couldn’t make it. His regiment was about to attack.
‘But his commander gave him permission and I drove to Gaza to pick him up.
‘When I arrived at the military base, the soldiers told me I had a puncture. I got out of the car to fix it but the soldiers wouldn’t let me get dirty so they changed my tire.
‘Shimon hadn’t washed or changed his clothes for a week.
But I took him home, put him in the shower, and took him to the wedding. He did it!
‘These are our lives. We live with this terrorist threat every day, but we will not give up. “We will not give up.”