The multi-front, surprise assault that Hamas militants launched against Israel over the weekend hit communities across the country, including a set of communes known as kibbutz (pluralized as kibbutzim). Be’eri, a kibbutz located along the Gaza border, was left devastated, with about 100 dead, and buildings shattered and destroyed.
Since Saturday, the death toll has skyrocketed on both sides. The Hamas attack has killed about 1,300 Israelis and left about 3,300 wounded. Meanwhile, Israel has begun bombarding Gaza in advance of a ground assault, killing more than 1,300 people and wounding about 6,000.
The violence that occurred in Be’eri and other kibbutzim over the last week is striking, not least because of the important place these communities have in Israel’s national history. Collectivist, egalitarian communities known for their agrarian economies and utopian idealism, kibbutzim played an important role in establishing Israel’s early national identity.