According to the Oxford Dictionary, a kibbutz is an agricultural community in Israel that is sustained by the socio-economic sharing of resources, equality, direct democracy, and often close-knit social relations.
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On Monday, October 9, volunteers helping with rescue and relief in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict found more than a hundred people dead at a kibbutz in southern Israel, close to the Gaza borders, called Be’eri or Bari. As per The Messenger, they were allegedly killed by the Hamas group and were reportedly “caught on camera” while doing so.
In fact, a spokesperson for one of the search and rescue organizations called Zaka told IDF Radio in a statement:
“Today, the volunteers entered Kibbutz Bari and it is impossible to explain in words the terrible sights – some were adults, some were children…”
The representative also added that over ten percent of Bari’s population has been wiped out. According to The Telegraph, Bari was celebrating a music festival when it was attacked.
For those uninitiated, the conflict began on Saturday, October 7, when the Hamas group launched an attack on Israel, following which the latter also deployed a counterstrike. So far, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 1350 people, as per the reports of The Messenger.
The kibbutz was first set up over 100 years ago
According to Tourist Israel’s official website, the kibbutz was first established over a century ago, in 1910, and is unique to the country. It was called Deganya Aleph and was founded along the Sea of Galilee and the Jezreel Valley.
The word comes from the Hebrew word ‘kvutzat’ meaning ‘group’ or ‘gathering.’ The idea behind the kibbutz was to set up a voluntary community in which residents followed egalitarian and communal norms within a socio-economic framework.
The primary aspects included sharing property, income, education, culture, and social life with everyone in the community. In fact, a member of a kibbutz was believed to be part of the group and not their own family.
What’s interesting was that all income generated by the members was put in a common pool and then invested, and each family received an equal amount of money, despite their job or position. Kids earned equal opportunities for education as well. Besides, the kibbutz operated on the principle of direct participatory democracy, meaning each and every member could directly influence issues and events in the community.
Today, the kibbutz comprises only three percent of the total Israeli population, and most of it has a population of 100 to 1000. While the concept of the community is undergoing a change, there are still 250 of them in the country, with over 125,000 people living. And, while most are secular, some are both conservative and reformative. Some of today’s popular settlements include Sde Boker, Revivim, and Gesher.
As per The Guardian, Bari (home to nearly 1,000 people) wasn’t the only settlement that found itself in the middle of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Nahal Oz was also involved, which lies on the Gaza border and is home to 400 Israelis. Others were Ofakim, Yad Mordechai, Kfar Aza, Yated, and Kissufim, among others. They saw killings, kidnappings, burnings, and more.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a press conference on Monday that the nation is going to win against the Hamas. In contrast, Abu Obeida, a Hamas spokesperson, issued a statement saying the group will kill one Israeli civilian each time Israel targets Palestine, as reported by The Telegraph.