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Can civilized people survive living next door to barbarians?

Avida Bachar retells the horrors of the Hamas massacre on Oct. 7 (Photo: Screenshot/Channel 11)

Amongst all of the eyewitness accounts, which many of us have received through WhatsApp or other group chat communities, one of the most heartbreaking stories has to be that of Avida Bachar, as told from his hospital room to Kan’s Channel 11 news broadcaster, Ayala Hasson.

He begins his harrowing tale of how he lost his beloved wife Dana and son, Carmel on the fateful morning of Oct. 7 when terrorists forcibly entered his kibbutz, Be’eri, and went house to house on a killing spree. Finally arriving at his home, while he and his family were locked in their bomb shelter, the Hamas operatives succeeded in shooting through the steel door, steel window and setting fire to the outer frame of the room, where smoke entered and began to asphyxiate the family. He and his 13-year-old daughter, Hadar were eventually saved by the Israeli military some 10 hours later, while his wife and son were not as fortunate.

Having both suffered fatal bullet wounds, Bachar's wife and son each died on the floor of their safety room, along with so many others from that community who were heartlessly and brutally massacred, leaving the kibbutz unrecognizable after all the ravaging carnage of their heinous attack. 

While Bachar valiantly fought to save every member of his family, even while he, himself, was terribly wounded by gunshots to both of his legs, his immeasurable courage and skilled articulation, as he relates the shocking events that took place, leave us speechless, overwhelmed and engulfed in profound distress over the depth of trauma and anguish suffered by his family, as well as the other members of Kibbutz Be'eri.

Bachar lays out, in precise detail, how it happened, what they tried to do in order to survive and how the immediate realization set in that this incident was different from all others and nothing they were able to recognize or confront in past years. In fact, it is in the last six minutes of this harrowing clip that Avida Bachar begins to make his powerfully cogent case about what needs to happen going forward.

He says that even those reporting the news don’t fully comprehend who this new enemy is, because up until Oct. 7, we had no frame of reference as to what was brewing in Gaza. He described them as being a sophisticated enemy, encompassing the young to the elderly – three generations who burned them alive, looted them and systematically killing as many as they possibly could with an unrelenting determination.  

He goes on to say that this enemy has no right to exist in the Gaza area because if we ever hope to see any kind of restoration and healing for these bordering communities, which were the recipients of this unspeakable tragedy, those people cannot continue to live in such close proximity to where they are able to exact this type of barbarism again. They cannot retain any of that land, not even two meters of it. Not one person nor one dwelling can remain.  

In fact, after what he, as well as his fellow kibbutz members experienced, he says if it were up to him, he would burn the fish and drown everything so that no one could ever come back because, in the end, in order to have a flourishing and robust homeland, there is no way we can have neighbors like this.

Completely overcome with emotion and unable to hold back her tears, Hasson, the interviewer was incredulous as to how this agricultural manager of his kibbutz, was able to hold it together long enough to voice the atrocities which most of us are not even able to take in but who, nonetheless, was able to so artfully inform the world as to the monstrous nature of this new enemy.

For some, whose sympathies extend to the ordinary citizens of Gaza, who they believe would not be supporters or co-conspirators of the terror group Hamas, one of the sad realities of how this savage attack was able to be executed, is because of assistance of many of the tens of thousands of Gazan workers who were allowed to enter Israel once they generously received work permits given to them by the Israeli government.  

It was revealed that the ones who worked in the surrounding Gazan kibbutzim, had been supplying personal, detailed information, which included the number of family members, where they lived, what pets they had and much more. By providing them with logistics and specifics, they were aiding the terrorists to plan an unprecedented, massive and well-orchestrated slaughter of 1,400 innocent Israelis who never expected it would be their last Shabbat. 

It cannot be ignored that these individuals, our neighbors, just a few kilometers from our border, are no less guilty of these barbarous murders, by virtue of their willing assistance to make the job just a little bit easier and more streamlined. Who among us would think it’s a good idea to allow the very same people who could have so easily informed Israeli authorities of something they thought felt wrong, to still live within a stone’s throw from these kibbutz communities?  

Yes, it would have taken a little bit of courage to speak up and let someone know that evil was possibly lurking, but what was the alternative of keeping silent, if you’re inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt? For us, there is only one conclusion, and while it may seem unfair to cast suspicion on every resident of Gaza, how can we know which ones are trustworthy and which aren’t? 

It's all too easy to harshly judge the advice of a man who suggests that Gaza needs to be completely emptied out, when you live thousands of miles away in another country and you don’t have to fear terrorist paratroopers descending upon your community, laying in wait to execute every living, breathing person. 

To think like Avida Bachar, you merely need to close your eyes and imagine your own spouse and children locked in a safe room while savage terrorists are violently banging on the steel door, trying to get in. 

Then go one step further. Picture them setting fire to the house and sucking the life out of you, slowly, while stray bullets reach the bodies of your beloved family members, causing them to bleed to death right before your eyes.

This is the work of barbarians who, as Bachar said, have no right to exist as the neighbors of civilized people, because our survival, as a nation, will not be a viable option when death is the only language our neighbors speak.

A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.

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