Scene of a 'massacre': Inside Israeli kibbutz decimated by Hamas fighters

More than 100 people were killed in Kafar Aza, Israeli military officials said.

ByMatt Gutman, Sam Sweeney, Becky Perlow, and Bill Hutchinson ABCNews logo
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Bodies, destruction, troops seen in Israel's Kibbutz Kfar Aza
Associated Press reporters were allowed into the Kfar Aza kibbutz to witness the full scope of the atrocities exacted by Hamas fighters.

KAFAR AZAR, ISRAEL -- Amid the palm trees and tidy lawns of southern Israel's Kafar Aza kibbutz, death and destruction are evident in all directions, the scene of a massacre left behind by what President Joe Biden described as the "bloodthirstiness" of Hamas terrorists who invaded the agriculture community near the Gaza border.

ABC News reporters were allowed into the kibbutz on Wednesday to witness the full scope of the atrocities exacted by Hamas fighters, who stormed through a security fence at the edge of the town, shooting indiscriminately at residents, burning homes and killing entire families.

A special edition of "20/20" at 10 p.m., Wed., Oct. 11, on ABC looks at life under threat in Israel and Gaza and how this attack is different from what we've seen in this region in the past.

"You're seeing the slaughter here. It's very important to see," Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, told ABC News during a ghastly tour of the shattered community. "They [Hamas militants] came in and they killed civilians."

The gaping hole in the fence the terrorists came through, many on motorcycles and trucks, remained open as Israeli soldiers stood nearby guarding it.

Israeli soldiers stand next to the bodies of Israelis killed by Hamas militants in kibbutz Kfar Aza on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023.
(AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Nearly every home in the community of about 700 people that was established in 1951 by Jewish immigrants and refugees was either burned or left pockmarked with bullet holes.

Inside some of the houses, soldiers found bodies of entire families, Israeli Maj. Gen. Itai Veruv told ABC News.

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

Describing the gruesome discoveries soldiers made in the houses, Veruv said, "They burned the apartments, then they shoot the babies, they cut their heads."

The IDF was concerned that some of the houses were booby-trapped with explosives, so the army was having soldiers detonate some of the houses before entering them.

Some of the bodies of victims observed by ABC News also appeared to be Thai workers believed to be employed on the kibbutz.

In one home, rescuers discovered 10-month-old twins alive and unharmed after their parents hid them and barricaded the doors, ABC News learned. The parents were both killed in the surprise attack, but their babies were hidden well enough to be missed by the terrorists. They were found by rescuers more than 10 hours after the murderous assault.

Soldiers went house to house, recovering bodies of community residents killed. Veruv told ABC News that some of the victims were mutilated, and several were decapitated.

The sound of black body bags being zipped up, carried away and placed on trucks could be heard in the wrecked houses time after time on Wednesday. In some cases, Israeli soldiers prayed over the bodies before removing them.

Veruv said more than 100 men, women and children were killed in the community, but an exact count was not yet available.

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Shell cases littered the floors of many of the modest houses. In one home, ABC News observed a child's bed drenched in blood.

Outside the homes, the bodies of numerous dead terrorists lay sprawled on the ground, killed in intense firefights with Israeli soldiers. Many of the killed terrorists were seen lying next to the motorcycles they stormed into the community on. The wreckage of motorized paragliders used to swoop into the community was strewn in the streets.

One of the crashed Hamas motorcycles seen by ABC News had a license plate reading in Arabic, "Your time is over."

Israeli tanks and soldiers in full combat gear patrolled the community, some placing earplugs in their noses to dampen the stench of death permeating the air.

In dozens of other border towns and kibbutzim along the border, similar grisly scenes were found, according to Israel Defense Forces officials.

As of Wednesday night, more than 1,200 civilians and soldiers had been killed in Israel and more than 2,900 injured since Saturday's surprise attack.

In Gaza, at least 950 people have died and 5,000 others have been injured in retaliatory airstrikes by Israeli jet fighters and surface-to-ground missiles since Saturday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. At least 260 of the dead in Gaza are children and 230 are women, the health ministry said.

In an address to the nation on Tuesday afternoon, Biden described in graphic detail the horrors that foisted on Israel.

Among the dead are at least 22 American citizens, the State Department said Wednesday. Biden said Tuesday that other Americans are believed to be among dozens of hostages taken back to Gaza and held by Hamas terrorists.

"It's abhorrent. The brutality of Hamas' bloodthirstiness brings to mind the worst rampages of ISIS," Biden said of the Islamic terrorist group that emerged in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, and decapitated prisoners and journalists throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Referring to Hamas' attacks in Israel, the president said, "Parents [were] butchered using their bodies to try to protect their children" and described "stomach-turning reports of babies being killed, entire families slain."

Biden said he supports Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to declare war on Hamas, saying, "Israel has a right to respond, indeed has a duty to respond to the vicious attacks."

"Let there be no doubt," Biden said, "the United States has Israel's back."

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