Editor’s note: This article has been corrected and updated. An earlier version cited, in the headline and the text, a foreign press reporter who visited Kfar Aza saying she was told by an IDF commander that the bodies of 40 babies, some of them beheaded, had been found at the kibbutz. This claim has never been confirmed.
The IDF took dozens of foreign journalists on Tuesday to see for themselves the death and destruction wrought by Hamas terrorists this week.
With explosions and artillery fire in the background, the 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-story 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.
Israel has yet to organize a tour of the massacre sites for Israeli journalists, showing how strongly the country is prioritizing world opinion.
When Ukrainian forces liberated the Kyiv suburb of Bucha from Russian forces in April 2022, Ukraine arranged similar tours for journalists to ensure widespread coverage of Russian war crimes against residents.
Earlier 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 900 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 swaths of the Strip.
Meanwhile, some 300,000 reservists girded for a possible ground invasion, sweeps to locate terrorists feared still hiding inside Israel continued, and tensions on the northern border threatened to snowball into a second front.
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 kilometers (15 miles) inside Israel.