On Wednesday, recovery crews extracted the remains of a woman from the rubble in Kibbutz Be’eri, Isreal. She was stripped naked and her feet were bound with metal wire. A team member reported discovering the burned and bound remains of over twenty children in the vicinity.
In Nir Oz, a line of ambulances and black vans processed slowly past the fence as we entered the kibbutz. This is now a place of stillness, the community frozen in the chaos of the attack.
Sliding between vibrant toys strewn across gardens, collapsed roofs, and the charred, gaping skeletons of people’s homes, cats are the only source of motion. Frequent loud explosions flood the atmosphere above. Three miles separate you from Gaza.
Early on, Hamas militants struck Nir Oz. Among the four individuals reported deceased or missing by survivors is Danny Darlington, a British national. Having recently relocated to Germany from Manchester, where he was born and reared, he had been to visit family in the kibbutz.
Danny’s family is still awaiting official conformation that he has passed away, despite the fact that a neighbour identified his remains the morning following the assault.
The BBC reports, that morning, Danny was not purposefully present in the kibbutz. The day prior, Danny’s half-brother Lior Peri had anticipated his return to Tel Aviv; however, he elected to extend his stay by one additional night.
Saturday morning, as the attack continued, Lior received a text message that read, “S**t, major balagan [chaos] in the kibbutz.”
“I did not hear from him again after that,” Lior informed me. “At this time, I am attempting to assist the family in Manchester.” Essentially, they are in the dark.”
Haim Peri, the father of Lior, also vanished from Nir Or in the course of the assault. Haim used to transport toddlers in Gaza who were ill to Israeli hospitals. A portion of the artwork that he cherished collecting remains standing amidst the wreckage that has filled the residence and garden.
Taken hostage by Hamas
When Hamas gunmen initially breached their safe room, Haim and his spouse, Osnat, were while sheltering inside. Although the safe room door remained firmly shut, the assailants reappeared with additional personnel.
According to Lior, this time around, Haim instructed his wife to conceal behind the sofa in the safe room before opening the door and surrendering himself.
His wife was still in concealment when a second, less disciplined, and more destructive group of individuals burst in. The dwelling was pillaged. They disregarded the dim interior of the safe room, despite the fact that the door remained ajar.
Numerous families are dissatisfied with the sluggish flow of information regarding the deceased and missing.
In order to identify the deceased, army bases have taken on tent cities illuminated by floodlights. Medics in plastic robes operate to the incessant chirping of generators, fighter aircraft, and cicadas.
An information centre exhibited over a dozen shipping containers, with body bags of varying dimensions heaped atop their shelves.
According to the staff, approximately one thousand individuals’ remains have passed through this location; some of these remain in Captain Maayan’s custody. Army policy prohibits her from disclosing her last name.
“I didn’t see one body that was shot just once,” she told me.
“Within each corpse, I observed torture and mistreatment, as well as numerous gunshot wounds, lacerations, and contusions to the head and limbs.” We do not feel as though we are witnessing casualties in a conflict. “Everything feels like a massacre, and we appear to be witnessing one.”
Nine hours passed before the army could reach Nir Oz. Israel, having deployed hundreds of thousands of troops along the Gaza Strip, is preparing for the next phase of this conflict: a significant offensive operation within the Strip with the objective of annihilating Hamas.
Lior Peri is discordant with the prevailing national sentiment in Israel.
“Revenge is a very strong emotion, which a lot of people have now,” according to him. “However, perhaps they will reconsider if they listen to us and the families” One potential response could be, “Vengeance can be reserved for a later time; for now, let us strive to escape this hostage situation in order to secure victory in the war.”
In the hours following the attack, the families of Israel’s detainees and missing remain frozen, unanswered and torn between two distinct traumas: that of their country and their own.
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