Kfar Aza, Israel – The smell of death is everywhere, bodies of Israeli civilians and soldiers, foreign workers and Palestinian fighters litter the ground in the Israeli kibbutz of Kfar Aza, which was attacked on Saturday by Hamas fighters.
The Israeli army on Tuesday cautiously entered the kibbutz (communal settlements in Hebrew) close to the Gaza Strip after surrounding the area for three days. It had been worried that there were still fighters inside or that there would be another operation out of besieged Gaza.
Shreds of parachute fabric hung from trees and roofs, relics of the Palestinian fighters who had landed in the kibbutz.
The soldiers began counting the Israeli dead, putting them in body bags to transport them out of the kibbutz. The final count of the dead and the missing has not been published yet.
The bodies of Palestinian fighters remained on the ground, decomposing.
The destruction all around bears witness to the ferocity of the battle between the Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army.
It looked like there had been an explosion or a clash in every corner. Weapons and bullet casings lay on the ground. Burned-out husks of cars dotted the streets.
The Israeli army began controlled detonations of some things and collected other weapons.
An Israeli soldier working on the recovery said Saturday’s operation was the largest that Israel had witnessed in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
As journalists were ushered out, an alert swept through the Israeli soldiers, and there were reports of Palestinian fighters having returned.
The journalists were urged out faster and as they left, the army closed off the access points of the kibbutz and the sound of shooting filled the air.