Renana Jacob was visiting a friend in a nearby kibbutz on a “normal Saturday morning”, while her sons, Or and Yagel, aged 16 and 12, were at home asleep in their beds in Kibbutz Nir-Oz when the militants launched their bloody attack on Israel on 7 October.
Upon hearing gunfire, the mother said she called her terrified sons who had locked themselves in their house’s safe room.
Speaking through tears alongside two other mothers at a location in London, Ms Jacob told reporters: “My youngest was whispering on the phone to me, ‘They’re coming in now.’
“My other son was trying to hold the safe room door shut. He thought he was strong, but he was not strong enough.
“The last thing I hear Yagel say live on the phone to me was ‘Don’t take me, I’m too young.’ He was begging for his life. No mother should ever get that call. This can’t be the last call any mother gets from her children.”
Despite the boys’ desperate pleas, Hamas kidnapped them.
Ms Jacob said she has heard nothing from or about her sons since that 8.30am phone call a month ago and is not even sure if they are still alive.
“You can’t escape imagining where they are, presuming that they’re alive,” she said, as she broke down crying.
“You can’t sleep because you’re thinking of whether they’re sleeping, you can’t eat because you’re thinking of if they’re eating, you can’t shower because you’re thinking of what conditions they’re being kept in.
“Our lives stopped on 7 October and have been on hold ever since. Every minute that passes by is a wound that will take years to heal.”
Ms Jacob said she and the other mothers are in the UK to appeal for Britain’s help in the efforts to release the hostages being held by Hamas, which are thought to number 240, especially the children. She believes 32 children are currently being held captive, with 16 of those from her village and the youngest aged just nine months.
“I’m begging Hamas to release the children,” she said. “Children should not be a part of this war game. They should not be a bargaining chip. Children should be home with their mothers.”
Ms Jacob also called for safety for the children currently in the besieged Gaza Strip, saying, “Let children from Gaza find a safe place and let our kids free,” with another mother, Hadas Kalderon, adding, “Immediately.”
Five members of Ms Kalderon’s family - her mother Carmela Dan, 80, her niece Noya Dan, 12, her son-in-law Ofer Kalderon, 53, and his two children Sahar, 16, and Erez, 12 - were kidnapped by Hamas from their homes in Kibbutzim Nir Oz and Kissufim on 7 October.
Ms Kalderon, who is friends with Ms Jacob and lives in the same village, said the mothers are living in a “nightmare” and are begging for their children to be saved from the “monsters’ merciless hands”, after her “lovely, wonderful” mother Carmela and her young autistic niece Noya have already been murdered.
“I don’t know if I will see my children again,” she said. “They’ve just been stolen cruelly away from their bed in their pyjamas without shoes - that’s all I know.”
Batsheva Yahalomi, 44, similarly does not know what has happened to her 12-year-old son Eitan after she last saw him being taken into Gaza by Hamas on a motorcycle. “I can’t stand the thought of him being there alone - it’s breaking me,” she said.
The 44-year-old and her two daughters, aged 10 and 18 months old, managed to escape in a terrifying ordeal, while her husband Ohad was injured in the struggle with the militants and is believed to have been taken hostage alongside Eitan.
Speaking of her kidnapped son through tears, Ms Yahalomi said: “He’s very sensitive and empathic with everyone. He believed in the good in other people. I hope that when he comes back he will still be able to believe in people and see the good in them.”