On Tuesday, the eighty-ninth day of Israel’s war with Hamas, World Jewish Congress-Israel led a delegation to Kibbutz Kfar Aza and Sderot to express unwavering support for Israel and to bear witness to the devastation and atrocities caused by Hamas terrorists on Shabbat Simchat Torah, October 7th, 2023.
The delegation included members of its board, the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps, the Israel Council on Foreign Relations board, and representatives of other NGOs.
Commencing at Kibbutz Kfar Aza, one of the places hardest hit on October 7th, the group witnessed firsthand the destruction wrought by Hamas and the civilian mob that accompanied the terrorists. The delegation saw many damaged and burned-down houses, along with other indications and evidence of the widespread carnage that occurred, including the abduction of dozens of residents. With the consent of the family, the delegation entered a house that had been left as it was found on October 7 and converted into a makeshift memorial sight. The sole modification to the house was a television playing a recording of a family member’s initial reaction to what she had found and a book available for visitors to inscribe their prayers and impressions.
Before departing, the group stopped in front of the home of Nitzan Libstein, the son of former WJC-Israel board member Ofir Libstein—both of whom were murdered by Hamas terrorists. The group lit memorial candles and recited kaddish led by Eli Novershtern, President of the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps.
On the delegation’s way to Sderot, participants saw a parking lot containing the hundreds of cars of those who were killed or kidnapped from the Nova Rave. Once in Sderot, the group listened to a presentation by Israeli Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia and to the Republic of Moldova Joel Lion, who explained in detail the horrors that were inflicted on the residents of over thirty villages in the Gaza envelope. This was accompanied by a video depicting graphic images of that brutality. Following the presentation, a resident of Sderot presented her personal account of what happened on that fateful day.
The visit was emotionally difficult, but the participants expressed appreciation for having had the opportunity both to see firsthand one of the sites of the atrocities perpetrated on October 7th and to pay their respects to the victims. They are determined to share this experience widely in order to strengthen support for Israel and to show the world the brutality and evil of Hamas and its supporters.
This is the second WJC delegation to visit Israel during the war. In November 2023, the World Jewish Congress sent a delegation of 14 young leaders and changemakers affiliated with WJC Elevate to gain firsthand insights into the situation in the areas surrounding the Gaza border and express their unwavering solidarity with Israel.