Watch CBS News

Israeli family from Hamas-raided kibbutz tries "not to think" the worst as 3 still held, including baby boy

Inside the Nir Oz kibbutz attacked by Hamas
Inside the Nir Oz kibbutz after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack 03:37

Kibbutz Nir Oz was a lush oasis of happy families and blooming gardens, until Oct. 7, when life in the small farming community was interrupted by gunmen on a mission to kill and kidnap. Israeli authorities say about a quarter of the residents of Nir Oz were either massacred or taken hostage by Hamas militants during their rampage across southern Israel.

One of the hostages is believed to be Kfir Bibas, who is only 10 months old.  His family say he was seized along with his brother Ariel, 4, and their terrified mother Shiri.

"I can only hope they're together," Shiri's cousin Yifat Zailer told CBS News on Friday in the family's bloodstained home. "I hope they didn't separate her from her children," she said, sobbing. "I hope."

An image from video shot by a Palestinian citizen journalist and posted online shows Shiri Katz, a resident of Kibbutz Nir Oz in southern Israel, clutching her two sons as they're all taken captive by Hamas militants during the group's terror attack on the community, Oct. 7, 2023.

"I try not to think about the worst, this is the only thing that keeps me going," said Zailer. "But every day that goes by…"

She was too distraught to finish her sentence, but then she continued, with a different thought: "We can't go down the same path anymore. Israel is going to be changed after this."

"We're all traumatized," Zailer told CBS News. "This touched every family that is involved in Israel… imagine, [an] entire country that knows someone that either was killed, kidnapped."

"The silence here is haunting," Israeli Army Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said as he looked around the decimated community. He grew up on a kibbutz just like Nir Oz. "There's no children. There's nothing, and it's just petrifying for me."

Aftermath of a deadly infiltration by Hamas gunmen in Kibbutz Nir Oz
A view shows the remains of a family home in Kibbutz Nir Oz following a deadly infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip, in Kibbutz Nir Oz, in southern Israel Oct. 19, 2023. AMIR COHEN/REUTERS

CBS News has spoken with another family from the small town that has six members missing, believed to be in Hamas custody. They learned on Wednesday that a seventh had been killed. 

Nir Oz is only about a mile and a half from the Gaza border, and Hecht said when the Hamas attack started, many residents took shelter inside the safe rooms in their homes. But the militants forced them out.

"They burned the houses so people would come out of these shelter rooms or suffocate to death, or they would just shoot them coming out," he said.

A Palestinian citizen journalist reported from the kibbutz during the assault.

"The fighters kidnapped the settlers," he said in one clip, "and killed those who tried to defend themselves."

He captured images of the militants breaking into houses with power tools and taking a young boy and an elderly woman captive. Images like that of the terror attack — which Israeli officials say killed more than 1,400 people — have left the country reeling.

You can hear the sound of Israel's response — airstrikes and artillery fire — from Nir Oz. It's so close to the Gaza border that you can smell the explosives from the Israeli airstrikes, which officials in the Hamas-ruled enclave say have killed more than 4,000 people.

Israel's military says it killed the Hamas commander who directed the attack on Kibbutz Nir Oz, but what happened in the tiny, devastated community and others like it helped to ignite a war with global consequences.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.