PENSIONERS from west Dorset in Israel on a 'bucket list' holiday found themselves ordered into a bomb shelter as war raged around them.

Married couple Malcolm and Sarah Heaver, 71, and 68, of Broadwindsor experienced a nightmare ordeal when they were holidaying in Israel as war with Hamas broke out and became stranded in the country with their credit card frozen. 

They flew out to Israel on October 1, with a plan to travel to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as part of a 'bucket list' holiday which had been in the planning for a number of years.

Mr Heaver, former owner of Bridport window firm Heavers, said his father had served in Haifa after the Second World War and he had always wanted to visit the country.

On October 7 the couple awoke to air raid sirens, following an attack by Hamas on a music festival near Re'im which killed more than 200 people.

Mr Heaver said: "We woke up to air raid sirens and announcements going out in Hebrew which we couldn't understand.

"The restaurant in our hotel was at the top of the building and when we went up for breakfast we were told to get into the basement where they had a bomb shelter.

"We were in the bomb shelter for about 40 minutes.

"After that, we got out and everywhere was shut, all of the bars and restaurants were closed.

"All day we could see missiles being intercepted above us."

The couple got in touch with the British Embassy to try and leave the country, but found difficulty getting in contact, as phone calls to the UK kept getting dropped.

"When the war started, we were in touch with the embassy in Tel Aviv," Malcom added, "they told us to register who we were so they could repatriate us.

"When we didn’t hear anything, I called up and was charged £2.50 a minute to call the UK embassy and I wasn’t even getting past the menu before the line was cut off.

"We carried on with our holiday because we couldn’t get home.

"We had our credit card frozen, we tried to buy flights back to the UK but there were none.

"The only flight was from Tel Aviv to Dubai which would normally be about £165 but they cost us £1,000 each and we had no way of paying for it.

"Our son paid for our flights and we had to borrow money from another one of our children to have spending money."

The couple ended up spending two-and-a-half weeks in Israel, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv before they were able to make it home.

With hotels, restaurants and shops all closed, the couple stayed in an apartment in a hotel where they could cook lunches and dinners.

Throughout the holiday, the fighting continued and Mr Heaver said he felt bombs "shake the hotels" they were staying in.

He said: "It was pretty disconcerting, but we didn’t feel unsafe at any stage, there were a couple of explosions close to us, enough to make the hotel vibrate.

"The nearest one was half a mile from us, we heard loads of explosions though throughout our time there.

"All day and night we could hear the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) pounding the Gaza Strip.

"We saw Apache helicopters, gunboats and fighter jets."

Mr and Mrs Heaver eventually managed to flee Israel courtesy of a flight to Dubai, purchased by their son.

The couple have now returned home to Broadwindsor.

Mr Heaver said: "It wasn’t scary but it was the uncertainty of how to get home was the worst part.

"If it hadn’t been for my kids, I don’t know what I would have done.

"We are just pleased to have got back now."