Kibbutz Nir Oz

I’ve been to Kibbutz Nir Oz a few times over the years. It was a lovely kibbutz on the Gaza border described by residents as 95% Heaven and 5% Hell. Most of the time, residents lived happy lives working in agriculture and other industry, surrounded by family and close friends. Periodically, they dealt with rocket attacks and were forced into safe rooms and bomb shelters.

About 25% of the residents of Nir Oz were either murdered or kidnapped on October 7, and the area is now a military zone.

We were granted permission and visited the kibbutz on February 14. We were each provided with a ceramic vest for our safety and warned that we would likely hear the IAF bombing Gaza about a mile away. We did, in fact, hear many loud “booms.” We walked around a completely abandoned kibbutz, except for the few military personal and a handful of workers.

We’ve all seen the pictures, but the pictures cannot do justice to the horrors: the burned-out buildings with only cribs or broken chinaware identifiable; the bullet holes through windows; the markings on the community mailboxes indicating who was dead and who was kidnapped; the trails of “stuff” left behind from the pillaging by Gaza residents thought to be innocent neighbors.

We also listened to our friend Tali share the personal stories, including the kidnapping of her own mother-in-law, who, thankfully, is one of the returnees.

It was horrific.

Next week, I’ll try to be a little more hopeful as I start writing about the survivors and their stories.