'At least 40 babies'

Foreign reporters taken to massacre site in Kfar Aza

'It's not a battlefield. You see the babies, the mothers, the fathers in their bedrooms, in their protection rooms, and how the terrorists kill them. It's not a war ... it's a massacre'

Soldiers prepare bodies in Kfar Aza. Photo: Oren Rosenfeld
Soldiers prepare bodies in Kfar Aza. Photo: Oren Rosenfeld

(Times of Israel) – The IDF took dozens of foreign journalists on Tuesday to see for themselves the death and destruction wrought by Hamas terrorists this week.

The estimated death toll in Hamas’s shock assault and massacre of civilians that began on Saturday morning has reached over 1000, according to Hebrew media reports. The Health Ministry says more 2900 have been injured in the unprecedented assault, with over 500 still hospitalised. More than 100 Israeli hostages remain captive in Gaza, including women, children and the elderly.

With explosions and artillery fire in the background, the news crews, wearing helmets and flak jackets, picked through the destroyed Kibbutz Kfar Aza, where the bodies of Palestinian terrorists still lay outside of fire-scarred homes.

The journalists were protected by at least a company of IDF soldiers, clad in full combat gear as they continued to clear homes.

Reporters spoke of the stench of death in the air.

Still, the pastoral simplicity of the kibbutz with its lawns and one-storey homes was evident, further underscoring how jarring were the atrocities that took place only days before.

“It’s not a war,” General Itai Veruv, head of the IDF’s Depth Command, told reporters. “It’s not a battlefield. You see the babies, the mothers, the fathers in their bedrooms, in their protection rooms, and how the terrorists kill them. It’s not a war … it’s a massacre.”

“It’s something I never saw in my life. It’s something I used to imagine of my grandmother and my grandfather in Europe and other places,” he said.

A reporter from i24 News said that an IDF commander told her that they had found the bodies of some 40 babies, some of whom had been beheaded.

Israel has yet to organise a tour of the massacre sites for Israeli journalists, showing how strongly the country is prioritising world opinion.

Earlier on Tuesday, the IDF said it had finally regained control over the border with the Gaza Strip, some 72 hours after Hamas terrorists blew through sections of the barrier and launched an invasion, slaughtering over 1000 Israelis and kidnapping more than 100 to Gaza.

Fighting continued in the kibbutz into Sunday.

As Israel continued to grapple with the emerging enormity of Saturday’s massacres and the military was formally notifying hostages’ families that their loved ones were being held in Gaza, Air Force planes bombarded wide swathes of the Strip.

The IDF said it had managed to seal the border, mining areas around breaches as a stopgap against further incursions.

“In the last day, not a single terrorist entered via the fence,” said the Israel Defence Forces’ top spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari.

Despite earlier indications, Hagari said that the military had not identified any tunnels crossing from Gaza into Israeli territory.

The IDF estimates that there are a small number of terrorists still hiding in Israeli territory. Overnight, Israeli security forces killed at least one Palestinian terrorist near Kibbutz Sa’ad.

Troops also exchanged fire with terrorists in Kissufim and Monday night saw police kill another terror suspect near Mishmar Hanegev, some 24 kilometres inside Israel.

Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said the bodies of 1500 terrorists had been located around southern Israel. Hundreds more have been killed in Israeli strikes in Gaza, according to Hamas health officials.

The Israeli toll includes at least 123 soldiers, the military said, adding 38 new names to its tally on Tuesday as it works to inform families of the deaths.

The ZAKA rescue group said 100 bodies had been recovered from Kibbutz Be’eri alone. Another 260 people were slain at an outdoor music festival, the organisation said.

In addition to the devastating death toll, some 130 people are thought to have been abducted from Israel and taken into Gaza by the terrorists who infiltrated on Saturday. The captives include women, children and the elderly.

Social media was filled on Saturday with horrifying videos of men, women and children being carried, dragged and driven into the Strip, many of them appearing to have been abused. There were also videos published of dead Israelis taken, including soldiers, the bodies of some of whom were paraded in the streets.

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