Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

Hell on earth! Eyewitness report from Kibbutz Kfar Aza

IDF armored personnel carriers on the grounds of Kibbutz Kfar Aza.  Photo(c) Ralph Lewinsohn, Kibbutz Kfar Aza resident, 2023
IDF armored personnel carriers on the grounds of Kibbutz Kfar Aza. Photo(c) Ralph Lewinsohn, Kibbutz Kfar Aza resident, 2023

This harrowing and shocking post is from a good friend of mine, and fellow Tour Guide, Ralph Lewinsohn, who made aliyah from Namibia and has raised two generations of family on Kibbutz Kfar Aza next to the border with Gaza. Thank God, he and his family are safe now, unlike many other members of his kibbutz, who they couldn’t even bury. Cry the beloved country!

Hell on Earth

“6.30 Saturday morning it started with a not uncommon severe barrage of rockets on the Israeli communities on the border with Gaza. At the same time hundreds of heavily armed terrorists broke through the border and attacked numerous civilian communities. After 36 hours, there are seven hundred dead and more than a thousand wounded in Israel. Most of the civilians, men women and children, barricaded themselves in their bomb shelters. The terrorists went door to door and murdered and took hostages back to Gaza, including whole families with children. We saw them running outside our house, dressed in black, shooting nonstop. In my small kibbutz, there were tens of dead and abducted.

Our emergency response volunteers, where nearly all murdered, abducted or wounded. Many homes were occupied, and families held hostage. A good friend’s daughter, husband and baby were murdered in front of their two older children, who hid in the cupboard, and called their grandmother who was overseas. The only way to give support to the two kids was for a social worker to be on the line with them for many hours, as they were in the room with the bodies of their family, until the army managed to get to them. No ambulances could get through, those that tried, the paramedics were killed, and the ambulances hijacked to Gaza.

My daughter who lives on a different part of the kibbutz, was without electricity for about 18 hours, cellphone battery ran out, so we had no contact with her, for about 12 hours, fearing for her life. She was eventually extracted by the army and is now safe.  My son and family, again in another area of the kibbutz, was finally extracted by the army and taken to safety as well, after almost 24 hours of hell.

IDF troops evacuating the residents of Kibbutz Kfar Aza after an 18 hour occupation by Hamas. Photo (c) By Kfar Aza resident Ralph Levinsohn, 2023

We were in our bomb shelter all the time, surrounded by constant shooting and explosions, very bad internet connection, no phone reception and some without electricity for about 18 hours.  Eventually army units entered all the homes to extract the families and kill the terrorists.  With me, they broke into the house through a window. A moment of great fear, when you don’t know if they are soldiers or terrorists.

The collected us in small groups, and under heavy guard, led us to buses, which eventually evacuated us out of the war zone. There was constant heavy fire around us, and we had to take cover in a bunker for a while. On the way to the buses, we passed tens of burnt-out vehicles, bodies lying in the street, RPG launchers, AK47 rifles, grenades etc.

Now we are in Eilat for a few days, trying to catch our breath and lower the level of trauma. My wife, son, daughter and three grandchildren all managed to get out alive, which is unbelievable. Most were not that fortunate. There are still pockets of terrorists in the area, and the kibbutz is deserted. We can’t even bury our dead.

As African born, the wilds of Africa have taught me many things. One lesson is that an injured beast is much more dangerous that an injured beast. Israel is now an injured beast!”

About the Author
Dr. Tuvia Book was born in London and raised in both the UK and South Africa. After making Aliya at the age of 17 and studying in Yeshiva he volunteered for the IDF, where he served in an elite combat unit. Upon his discharge he completed his BA at Bar-Ilan University, as well as certification in graphic design. He then served as the Information Officer at the Israeli Consulate of Philadelphia, while earning a graduate degree in Jewish Studies. Upon his return to Israel, Dr. Book graduated from a course of study with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, and is a licensed tour guide. Tuvia has been working in the field of Jewish Education, both formal and informal, for many years. He has guided and taught Jewish students and educators from around the English-speaking world for some of Israel’s premier educational institutions and programs. Tuvia has been guiding groups for Birthright Israel since its inception and, in addition, has lectured throughout North America, Australia, Europe and South Africa. Tuvia served as a Shaliach (emissary) for the Jewish Agency for Israel as the Director of Israel and Zionist Education at the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York (Jewish Education Project). He was a lecturer/educational guide at the Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education (AMIIE) in Israel for a decade. Tuvia has lectured at both Bar Ilan University and Hebrew University. He was a Senior Editor and Teaching Fellow at the Tikvah Fund. He is a research associate at the Hudson Institute. Tuvia is the author and illustrator the internationally acclaimed Israel education curriculum; "For the Sake of Zion; A Curriculum of Israel Studies" (Fifth edition, Koren 2017), and "Moral Dilemmas of the Modern Israeli Soldier" (Rama, 2011) and has a doctorate in Israel Education. His latest book, "Jewish Journeys, The Second Temple Period to the Bar Kokhba Revolt – 536 BCE-136 CE," was published by Koren this year. To order:
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