CLEARWATER, Fla. — The impacts of what happened last October that ignited the war between Israel and Hamas have been felt around the world. Here at home, people are sharing those stories of coping with the ongoing war and the countless lives that have been devastated by it.

What You Need To Know

So how do people cope with a war raging on in their country? It’s a question one Israeli woman says her life and mental health depended on her finding an answer to. And with the help from the Jewish National Fund USA organization, which is dedicated to helping people ride out their troubles, she’s doing just that.

Ifat Twilly said it is a form of therapy every time she gets on the back of a horse. Especially after her experience during the first days of the Israel and Hamas war. 

“I could breathe again. For me it was like, mental health savior really,” she said. “There’s nothing more unique than sitting on a horse and concentrate about right here, right now, because of what we have been through on Oct. 7. There’s a lot of horror stories running through my head because my daughter was with me. I could’ve been outside and be dead.”

She said many of her neighbors were captured, killed and some are still being held by Hamas.

She pointed to a poster with pictures of some of the hostages.

“This is one of the three hostages who was killed by mistake while trying to escape from Gaza by our forces,” she said.

For her, looking at that poster takes her back to how she felt when Hamas first attacked.

“Helpless, hopeless and really, really, I really want all of them back now,” she said.

Twilly said she is also reminded of how valid her feelings of fear and PTSD are. After the initial attack, she said she hid in a bomb shelter with her daughter as many of her neighbors and their children were killed or kidnapped.

It is why she’s telling anyone who will listen about the trauma she and countless others have endured.

“The world needs to know that it was not a fairytale. It makes me annoyed to hear people do not believe what was happening there,” she said.

Twilly is traveling all over the U.S., making a stop here in Clearwater with Eva Lange.

Lange works with the Jewish National Fund USA’s Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center where Twilyand other Israelis are receiving equine therapy.

“We never thought that we would be treating people who had friends and family slaughtered by Hamas,” said Lange.

Their goal is to show the important work they are doing while sharing their impactful stories.

“People come to us and most of them have PTSD. And most of them weren’t outside for a few days, for a couple of weeks before they came to us. So we put them on the horse and suddenly they’re on top of the world. You have another view on life in a way and they start breathing again and feeling happy,” Lange said.

It’s a happiness Lange said they’re hoping to continue doing with the help of donations and people committing to helping people like Ifat who’ve already endured so much and the others still enduring it.