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'They burned houses with people inside': Father of three recalls Hamas' brutal attack on Israeli kibbutz

The Nir Oz kibbutz in southern Israel previously housed 400 people and was ambushed by roughly 200 Hamas militants. Two dozen people are confirmed to be killed and a dozen of the residents have been captured and held hostage in Gaza.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Jerusalem Published on: October 20, 2023 14:03 IST
The Nir Oz kibbutz wears a desolate look in the aftermath
Image Source : AP The Nir Oz kibbutz wears a desolate look in the aftermath of the Hamas attack.

Nearly two weeks after Hamas launched a devastating attack on Israel that claimed more than 1,400 lives, a father of three children recalled the brutal attack by militants on his village, which left houses damaged and several residents dead or missing.

Shachar Butler, a resident of a village located in the Kibbutz Nir Oz, had returned to his village to bury his slain friend, only to find the area scorched and heavily damaged, with ransacked houses, bullet-ridden cars and close to no human presence.

India Tv - Scorched houses in Nir Oz

Image Source : APScorched houses in Nir Oz

"It was the happiest place alive. It was a green place, with animals and birds and kids running around," Butler, who actually fought against the militants on the day of the attack, told the Associated Press on Thursday.

"They burned the houses while the people were inside. The people who came out are the people who got kidnapped, killed, executed, slaughtered. ... It’s unimaginable. It’s just unimaginable," he said.

Butler further said that he lost many friends in the attack. "We worked the fields until the last yard and always hoping that maybe one day there’s going to be something peaceful … between us and the other side," he added.

Israel's Nir Oz

Nir Oz comprises over 20 towns and villages in southern Israel surrounded by the Negev desert and is located close to the Gaza border. It housed 400 people, most of them employed in growing asparagus and other groups or in local paint and sealant factories.

However, after the kibbutz was ambushed by no less than 200 Hamas militants on October 7, it is now virtually devoid of human presence. It remains Israel's oasis of greenery with a botanical garden that contains over 900 species of flowers, trees and plants.

According to residents, an entire quarter of the town's population fell victim to the brutal attack by Hamas militants. Over two dozen people have been confirmed while a dozen is believed to have been captured by Hamas and taken to Gaza as hostages.

India Tv - An empty football stadium in Nir Oz.

Image Source : APAn empty football stadium in Nir Oz.

A 57-year-old resident, Ron Bahat, said about 100 people from Nir Oz are dead or missing. He recounted how militants tried repeatedly to break into the safe room where he and his family barricaded themselves during the attack.

“Luckily we were able to hold the door. I was holding the door, my wife holding the windows, and luckily we survived,” he said.

Further alongside a grove of pines, the windows of nearly 20 cars are shot out, with the Arabic word for Palestine spray-painted in orange across many. A trail of blood curls through one home, stretching through the battered doorway of its safe room. In another, bloodstains sit near an overturned crib.

Close to 200 people, including foreigners, have been taken hostage by Hamas militants. With hundreds of thousands of troops now ranged along the border, Israel is now preparing for the next stage of their operations - a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, aimed at destroying Hamas.

(with AP inputs)

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