How Hamas carried out attack that shocked the world

How Hamas carried out attack that shocked the world: Gunman stormed kibbutz at dawn, shot and burned families alive as they begged for their lives – starting with grandmother, 90 – before ‘beheading babies’

  • Some 70 Hamas terrorists wielding guns and grenades stormed Kfar Aza kibbutz
  •  Read our Israel-Hamas live blog to stay up-to-date with all latest developments

The smell of the rotting bodies hangs in the air at the Kfar Aza kibbutz, where Hamas terrorists massacred families including 40 children before apparently beheading some of them in a savage attack on Israeli soil. 

The small kibbutz, popular with young parents, was one of the first Israeli settlements to be targeted on Saturday morning by the rampaging terrorists who unleashed horrors that defy belief.

It was here that the Hamas gunmen, wielding assault rifles and grenades, ruthlessly shot dead screaming families as they begged for their lives before setting fire to their homes.

The terror began just after dawn on Saturday morning when most of the 400 Israeli residents living at the Kfar Aza kibbutz were either sleeping or enjoying their breakfast with coffee.

The first wave of 70 Hamas terrorists had roared towards the quiet kibbutz on motorbikes after they tore through the border wire a mile away, while others paraglided over Israel’s unsuspecting defences from Gaza.

As soon as they arrived, the heavily armed fighters attacked the compound from four directions – starting with the ‘baby quarter’ on the west side where all the young families lived.

Israeli soldiers walk next to the body of Hamas militant killed in Kfar Aza kibbutz on Tuesday 

Israeli soldiers remove the body of a compatriot, killed during an attack by Hamas terrorists in Kfar Aza, on Tuesday

The body of a woman is covered with a blanket in Kfar Azza

A baby’s seat and child’s dress is seen covered in blood in the aftermath of a Hamas attack 

Gunshots and blood stains are seen on a door and walls of a house where civilians were killed days earlier in an attack by Hamas on this kibbutz near the border with Gaza on Tuesday

The terrorists were met by a frantic kibbutz guard, a small group of residents with military experience who were patrolling the perimeter when they saw the swarm of black figures racing towards them on their motorbikes. 

They – like the Israeli military and government – were not prepared for the wave of terrorists firing streams of bullets at them. The small security squad tried in vain to protect their neighbours, but they couldn’t hold the terrorists off and they were killed in the intense fighting. 

The ruthless Hamas gunmen moved quickly through the kibbutz, first killing a 90-year-old grandmother who had been sitting on her porch when the terrorists arrived. They dragged the terrified pensioner into her living room and shot her twice in the head.

Families were woken to the terrifying sound of gunfire and voices outside their homes. Terrified parents ran to their sleeping children and plucked them out of their beds and cots before bundling them into safe rooms or cupboards.

Among those parents were Itay and Hadar Berichevsky, both 30, who knew they only had mere seconds to react when they heard the gunmen trying to smash down their front door, knowing that if they didn’t, their children would never have a future.

The terrified parents frantically put their two 10-month-old twin babies into a hidden shelter moments before the Hamas terrorists stormed into their home and shot dead the young couple. 

The terrorists then moved systematically from home to home, blowing open some front doors with their rocket-powered grenades before unleashing a hail of bullets at the men, women and children living there indiscriminately. Entire families had been handcuffed before they were shot point blank one by one, soldiers said.  

It would later emerge that as many as 40 babies and young children were massacred in this kibbutz, some of them beheaded, according to Israeli soldiers. Harrowing images from the scene show a baby’s car seat covered with blood, her small bloodied dress lying next to it.

The Hamas gunmen set fire to several homes in the often quiet kibbutz in a sick attempt to force the families out so that they could gun them down as soon as they reached their garden. 

Itay and Hadar Berdichevsky (pictured with babies), both 30, only had mere seconds to react when they heard the gunmen trying to smash down their front door, knowing that if they didn’t, their children would never have a future

The terrified parents frantically bundled their two babies into a hidden shelter moments before the Hamas terrorists shot the parents dead. The babies would be found more than 12 hours later by Israeli soldiers 

Hamas terrorists beheaded babies and gunned down entire families in their homes in a small kibbutz in Israel, Israeli soldiers have claimed

An IDF soldier  covers his face before removing the body of a civilian killed days earlier in an attack by Hamas terrorists on Tuesday 

Israeli soldiers search for the bodies of Israelis killed in Kfar Aza kibbutz near the border with Gaza on Tuesday 

An aerial view shows the bodies of victims of the Hamas attack on the Kfar Aza Kibbutz on Tuesday

‘But many preferred to die in the fires, than be killed by the terrorists,’ Omar Barak, a 24-year-old Israeli army officer, told the Times of Israel.

Some had tried to flee the terrorists, but many were gunned down mercilessly – their bodies lying on the grass in front of their homes. 

A resident, who had managed to flee the carnage with their life, told EuroNews: ‘The terrorists came into every home, into every home, every place. They would burn their house with them inside so they would die.

‘They shot children, babies, old people, anyone. No one was safe from it. The first victim was a 90-year-old woman who was sitting on her porch. She saw them coming and she got shot.’ 

The attack was so quick and coordinated that the coffee from their Saturday morning breakfast was still on the table in one family’s home. But beside the cracked cups, blood covered the floor of their kitchen table. 

Of the very few who managed to flee the terror is filmmaker Shaylee Atary, who told Israeli media how her husband Yahav Winner had helped her and their one-month-old daughter escape their home as the gunmen entered their home. 

Shaylee says she ran into a storeroom before covering her and her baby, Shaya, with sacks of soil. And when she heard the gunmen getting closer again, she ran across the lawn as the terrorists fired at her. 

Miraculously, she was taken in my a family who let her into their home and safe room, where they waited for 27 hours until they were rescued. The young mother has since been told that her beloved husband was killed by the terrorists, and will never see their daughter grow up. 

‘I really don’t know where our state was,’ Shaylee said, referring to how the Israeli army and government were taken completely off-guard by the attack that has seen over 1,000 Israelis killed and hundreds more kidnapped. 

‘They abandoned us,’ she said: ‘They were on Twitter. That’s where they were.’ 

It took the Israeli army 12 hours to reach the kibbutz, said officer Davidi Ben Zion, the deputy commander of Unit 71, an experienced team of paratroopers. 

But the carnage didn’t end there. The terrorists fought hard to keep control of the kibbutz, massacring any civilian they saw, and firing bullets at the soldiers from all angles. 

Soldiers told the BBC how it was ‘chaos, terrorists everywhere’ as soon as they arrived in the kibbutz. ‘You cannot imagine how difficult the fighting was,’ one said.

It took the Israeli soldiers three days to recapture the kibbutz, shooting dead the Hamas terrorists, whose bodies have been left to bloat in the sun. 

The soldiers went from home to home, hoping to find survivors but they were mostly met with the bloodied bodies of parents and their young children. 

Astonishingly, the 10-month-old twin babies who had been bundled into a hidden shelter by their heroic parents Itay and Hadar Berdichevsky before they were shot dead, were rescued by Israeli soldiers and taken to their grandmother. 

Israeli soldiers patrol near burned and desroyed houses after the attack by Hamas 

A burned house after an attack by Palestinian terrorists on the kibbutz on Tuesday

A view of a house left in ruins after an attack by Hamas militants on this kibbutz days earlier when dozens of civilians were killed near the border with Gaza on Tuesday

A dead civilian lies under a blanket outside a house in the kibbutz near the border with Gaza on Tuesday 

What is left of the utter carnage that the Hamas terrorists unleashed on this small community is the bullet-riddled bodies of parents and their children and the charred remains of their homes. 

Throughout the town, walls and torched cars are riddled with bullet holes, tracing a path of violence that continues inside to bedrooms with mattresses spattered in blood, safe rooms that could not withstand the attack 

There were so many victims, feared to be around 150, that soldiers and the mortuary teams spent hours collecting all of their bodies. They wrapped the small bodies of young children butchered by the terrorists, before placing them into body bags that were too large. 

The Israeli soldiers were seen comforting each other after witnessing such horrors, including the bodies of entire families who were gunned down in their beds. 

‘You see the babies, the mothers, the fathers in their bedrooms and how the terrorists killed. It’s not a battlefield. It’s a massacre,’ Israeli Major General Itai Veruv said as he stood at the entrance of the kibbutz.

‘I’ve served as a combat soldier and officer for 39 years,’ Veruv continued. ‘I’ve never seen anything that comes close to this. It’s not even something that our parents knew. This is something out of the world of our grandfathers back in Europe, from the pogroms and the Holocaust.

Veruv had arrived at Kfar Aza on Saturday to join the fighting but on Tuesday he gathered the world’s press to show them what happened there. 

‘When I discovered what had happened here, I remembered how General Eisenhower, when the American army liberated concentration camps in Germany, immediately brought the media so the world would know,’ Veruv said, his eyes red.

The stench of bodies was heavy in the air as the soldiers showed journalists the kibbutz, popular amongst families. The small football nets where children would have played football were seen on a pocket of grass – but in the background, the bodies of families were laid on the ground. 

Major David Ben Zion, 37, a reservist called up to try to rescue any survivors, told The Independent: ‘We saw dead babies, girls. We succeeded in saving some of them but we found most dead in their houses. They came with just one mission – to kill more and more of our people.’ 

Outside one of the small houses of the kibbutz. the body of a resident was covered by a purple sheet with a bare foot protruding. A pillow and other objects from the house lay scattered.

Elsewhere bodies of the gunmen lay face down on the ground. A destroyed gate at the perimeter of the kibbutz showed where the gunmen had entered.

Military spokesman Maj Doron Spielman compared the toll in Kfar Aza and nearby villages he visited to scenes he witnessed as a New Yorker after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

‘I remember going through 9/11 and waking up the next day, the next week, and everything had changed,’ he said. ‘It’s the same thing again. But worse because we’re such a small country.’

The threat didn’t end with the Hamas terrorists being shot dead. Soldiers took 30 to 40 minutes going through each home due to the number of unexploded grenades strewn across the floor. 

And soldiers were still securing the paths of the kibbutz, which had single-storey houses with verandas, palm trees and banana plants, as bursts of gunfire and explosions could be heard in the distance. 

In one part of the kibbutz, where residents had kept the lawns tidy outside their modest homes, lay the ruins of a motorised glider used by the militants to fly over the border. Next to it lay a crumpled Hamas flag in the dirt. 

Kfar Aza, surrounded by farms and just a few minutes down a country road from the heavily fortified fence Israel erected around Gaza, was one of more than 20 towns and villages attacked by Palestinian fighters early Saturday. 

For the younger soldiers who had fought their way through the kibbutz, they were unable to talk about what they saw.

‘We have a long war ahead of us now,’ one soldier said. ‘There will be time to come to terms with what we saw here after the war.’ 

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