The fact that October 7th is considered the worst day in Israel’s modern history—but not in her entire history—should explain a lot about what we are dealing with in Israel.
For the past 40 years, the Maoz Israel Report has gone to print mid-month so that it arrives in people’s homes by the first of the month. But I sit here, mid-month, a week after this war began—and I remain at a loss for words.
I am no stranger to war. This is my fourth war in Israel, not counting the military operations that happen seemingly every year or two. I grew up with TV commercials teaching me never to approach a suspicious object like an abandoned bag because it could be a bomb. Code Red sirens indicating rockets from Gaza, or Lebanon—or Iraq—are second nature to me.
This time was different. This time it hurt deeply. My people weren’t just killed. They weren’t even just murdered. They were butchered. They were tortured and then piled up and burned alive. And if they were really unlucky, they survived and were among the more than 200 kidnapped into Gaza.
I haven’t spoken to a single Israeli—Jew or Arab—who doesn’t know someone with a horror story from this war. And it’s only just begun.
I thought long and hard about how to pass on this experience with words, without passing on the trauma my entire country is going through. And I don’t know how. So, we have agonizingly sifted through countless photos, sparing you the worst and wishing we could show you more.
If a picture is worth a thousand words...the images filmed and photographed in Israel since Saturday the 7th are a million screams of a nation pleading to be allowed to defend itself, of Israeli villages that no longer exist, of family lines that were completely wiped out—and of a history lesson the world convinced itself they had learned.
Flash 90/Edi Israel
A FATHER'S AGONY
FLIGHTS PACKED WITH RETURNING FIGHTERS
TOGETHER TO THE END
THE NORTHERN FRONT
Metula, a city that sits directly on the Israel/Lebanon border, was declared a closed military zone and nearby cities were evacuated as the IDF manages the threat of a second war front in Lebanon with Hezbollah.
Flash 90/Tomer Nueberg
RELEASED TERRORIST NOW LEADS HAMAS
It was 12 years ago this October that kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was traded for over 1,000 prisoners. One of those terrorists was Yahya Sinwar who now heads up Hamas and this war against Israel. He is rarely, if ever, seen in public without bodyguards behind him and children in front who serve as a human shield. It should be noted he tortured and brutally killed his own people when they disagreed with him.
FAILED LAUNCHES IN GAZA STRIP
HOSPITAL BOMBING THAT NEVER HAPPENED
500 Palestinians were said to have been killed when a rocket hit a Gaza hospital. Hamas and international media blamed Israel before any investigation took place. Riots against Israel took off around the world and the next day Hamas “retaliated” by bombing an Israeli hospital taking out the hallway next to the birthing ward. It took only hours to find footage and a recorded conversation between Hamas militants to prove the explosion was caused by a failed rocket from the Islamic Jihad. The strangest twist in the story was that in the end, photos showed the rocket had dropped in the parking lot and had not hit the hospital at all and we never heard anything else about the “500 dead Palestinians.” In response, the Israeli ambassador to India tweeted, “This ability of the Palestinians to invade 30 Jewish communities, slaughter 1400+ Israelis, kidnap more than 200, shoot 7000+ rockets at Israeli civilians and still play the victim is amazing.”
CHILDREN IN GAZA FED POISONOUS IDEOLOGY
ONE TRUCK I WILL NEVER FORGET
Shura military base, Israel. Sunday morning, October 8th.
We arrive at the base to the stench of death. It’s the smell of a concentration camp. We are briefed and given protective clothing to get to work.
I’ve trained for years to process conditions of all kinds of victims’ remains. Nothing prepares me for this horror that will be etched in my memory forever. This is not a baptism of fire; this is a head-long dive into the inferno.
A huge, refrigerated truck arrives with a chocolate milk ad on the side. The kind we drank when we were kids. A tsunami stench of death hits us.
We don’t think; we just act. The guy closest to the door numbly picks up body bag after body bag shouting to his friends from below, “Careful, this is the head...here are the legs…“
Body after body. It’s never ending. 40 bodies in the first truck, and then truck after truck…
One truck I will never forget. The truck from Kibbutz Nir Oz.
A long truck full of people whose bodies were gathered by our people while terrorists were still out there—while rockets were still being fired overhead. Whole families in sheets and carpets from their own homes.
I get into the truck and see a little foot of a four-year-old girl. It’s so sweet. I can’t digest what I’m seeing. I picked her up slowly, being careful with her head. Being careful as I pick up her lifeless little body.
The blanket slips off and the peaceful face of an angel emerges from the inside. A toddler still in her Mickey Mouse nightgown.
I take her down slowly and shout, “Four-year-old girl. Be careful, be careful of her head!” Everyone is careful. Everyone does everything with the fear of God. This is a nightmare. A horror movie.
Then comes her brother—a two-year-old boy with beautiful blond hair. Then her sister … Then, we pull out their father, a handsome and big man. We probably also pulled out the mother, but I couldn’t tell.
We pulled out the bodies of foreigners and locals who still had weapons and ammunition strapped to them…
Our hearts are broken, crushed. Any second the heart could crumble, but we must continue.
It doesn’t end...ten trucks like this.
We go to sleep at 5:00 am in the morning. We just collapse on the sidewalk outside because who cares where we lie. Our bodies are shaking and our eyes won’t close. They are so swollen from tears. That was just the first day.
At 7:00 am we get up—and go again Horror follows horror.
Penetrating injuries of hatchet knives, smashed and mangled heads from hammers, faces and bodies with gashes burned into them.
Girls with nail polish that matches their clothes with a stench that overwhelms the senses. We try everything to block the smell, but nothing helps. We feel the Angel of Death hovering in the air…
Each day, the condition of the next truckload of corpses gets worse. They turn blue or white and their skin begins to peel.
It’s hard to comprehend who and what we are seeing.
Some people are completely blackened. It is impossible to distinguish whether it’s a man or a woman. Tissue and skin flake off and they stick to our gloves.
How do we handle the remains so we can bring back as much of them to their families who are crying out from the core of their being...waiting for that identifiable piece that will confirm to them that this body was their loved one?
Professionals among us who would have said they’d seen everything before—they fall apart...wailing from the depths of their soul...running outside to vomit…
Our nation is witnessing horrors we only saw in dark and evil days of old. We didn’t think we’d come to this again…
And yet, here we are. But I will say something in the midst of this horror.
The people of Israel live!!!! We will get through this and raise our heads high again.