Nicky Blackburn
October 11, 2023, Updated October 31, 2023

I went to TRX this morning. I thought it would be good to do something normal, and it’s in my village so didn’t require me to drive anywhere.

Normally our class is full of laughter and complaints by everyone at how hard the exercises are. This time, it was almost completely silent. Aside from our teacher telling us what to do and when, no-one spoke.

But you could tell everyone was thinking, it was that kind of silence. Everyone was deeply immersed in their own thoughts, fears and anxieties. If you could see thoughts, that room would have been bursting.

Before I left for class, I read the stories about what happened in Kibbutz Be’eri and Kfar Aza. All of us had.  

Yesterday, foreign reporters were invited down to the south to see for themselves, and their reports were devastating.

Forty babies murdered. Babies. Not just murdered, but some decapitated too. Children bound and slaughtered, whole families killed. Others burned to death in their homes, preferring to die by fire than terrorists.

In Kfar Aza, a community of around 400 people, at least 100 are dead. In Be’eri the figure stands at 108.

This isn’t war. This is a massacre. As were the attacks on the nature party and other communities of the south. It’s pure, unadulterated hatred – it’s ISIS, it’s Hitler. How can people be this evil? How can people be this savage?

All through the class I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Through the squats and lunges, the crunches and the planks.

Yesterday evening, a message went round advising parents to ask their children to delete TikTok and Instagram because of the awful videos coming out from Hamas showing the attacks.

These are snuff movies, basically, videos of rapes, murders, of Hamas setting fires and brutalizing the dead and dying. They are a terrible visual terrorism that can damage and traumatize viewers – all viewers, but particularly youngsters who use social media more and aren’t equipped to deal with what they see.

Unfortunately, before we’d even realized it, my youngest son had seen some of them.

I am a pacifist. I always have been and hope that I always will be. For many years I really believed that peace was possible with the Palestinians. Why not? Doesn’t everyone just want to live peacefully, prosperously, in good relations?

The first serious doubts hit me during the war in 2014 when news broke about the massive network of concrete tunnels that Hamas had built underneath Gaza and into Israel. Their goal – to do what Hamas did in fact on Saturday. To surprise the people in the southern communities, to kill and kidnap.

All that money from overseas, all that vital concrete and resources that could have been used to build schools and hospitals and homes, gone into building a network of tunnels purely for the purpose of killing.

I am not religious, but I was brought up in a Church of England school with daily prayers, hymns and sermons. We were taught that we should turn the other cheek. But you can’t turn the other cheek to this. You can’t turn the other cheek to what happened on Saturday.

There will never be peace with Hamas, just as there will never be peace with Hezbollah. That isn’t their goal.

Still, I try to look for positives. Even small ones.

The Arab pharmacist I spoke to on Sunday morning who was as shocked and upset as his customers. The Internet influencer, Nuseir Yassin (Nas Daily), who announced that from now on he was calling himself an Israeli Palestinian, rather than a Palestinian Israeli. In our conflicted world, that tiny change speaks volumes.

We’ve heard about Bedouins cooking food for soldiers in the south, Israeli-Arabs serving in the IDF, the Muslim doctors volunteering for MDA and United Hatzalah, including the one who was shot and tied to a post by Hamas after stopping to help at what he thought was a road accident.  

When the class finished, there were still not many words, but there were many hugs.

Shocking cruelty in the south: How can people be this evil?
A large billboard thanking US President Joe Biden for his support with Israel, above the Ayalon Highway in Ramat Gan, October 11, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90

“We have no place else to go,” said one of my friends as we left, echoing the heartfelt words of United States President Joe Biden in his address to the nation last night, as he talked about meeting with Golda Meir just before the Yom Kippur war.

When I got back home, my husband was watching Biden’s warm and supportive speech about Israel for the second time, taking heart from the thought we are not alone.

“He’s seen the videos,” my husband said. “You can see it in his face.”

More on Life

Fighting for Israel's truth

We cover what makes life in Israel so special — it's people. A non-profit organization, ISRAEL21c's team of journalists are committed to telling stories that humanize Israelis and show their positive impact on our world. You can bring these stories to life by making a donation of $6/month. 

Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

More on Gaza Hostages