KIBBUTZ BE’ERI, Israel—From Kibbutz Be’eri, on the border with Gaza, you can see the horror and cruelty of the Israel-Hamas war in 360 degrees. On one side, you can see the husks of burned houses that are still full of bloodstains and bullet casings from the Hamas massacre of at least 1,200 Israelis on Oct. 7. Then turn around and you watch smoke rising from destroyed buildings during the current bombardment of the Gaza Strip, just a few miles west of the kibbutz. At night, the sky above Gaza glows orange and red with explosions and flares being used to illuminate and destroy targets on the ground, and during the day, you can see the rubble and destruction left behind.
When The Daily Beast visited the once peaceful surroundings of Kibbutz Be’eri the streets were filled with the sights and sounds of war: the screech of jets flying overhead, the crack of outgoing artillery, and the engine roar of armored vehicles. This is part of a military assault on Gaza where, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, Israeli war planes and artillery have killed more than 11,000 people in the Strip. Hamas fighters, alongside innocent men, women, and children have died in their thousands of strikes on refugee camps, apartment buildings, and hospitals. The tactics of the bombing campaign have been condemned as “clearly wrong” by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said: “The nightmare in Gaza is more than a humanitarian crisis. It is a crisis of humanity” and called for an immediate ceasefire. The Israeli government said the campaign is necessary to root out Hamas.
Be’eri had always lived under the shadow of war, and even before Oct. 7, rocket fire from Gaza could be seen frequently. But the inhabitants lived quiet, calm lives, and many were sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians next door. A good number were peace activists, and sometimes employed Palestinians from Gaza to cross the border and work in the Kibbutzim. Now, the residents have been mostly replaced by heavily armed and uniformed soldiers. There are the remains of crushed and burned-out civilian cars in a carparks, while tanks patrol the grounds just outside.