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Kibbutz survivors of October 7 Hamas attack travel to Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A group of women from Israel's Kibbutz K'far Azza traveled to Santa Barbara for a special visit.

(Photo Courtesy: Rabbi Belle Michael)

The eight women did not come as tourists; they came to share their stories of survival in a community that was targeted and "butchered" by Hamas terrorists on October 7.

They also traveled to our area "to breathe" and to feel the embrace of unwavering support and compassion for what they've lost and endured. The trip was made possible thanks to a partnership between Congregation B'nai B'rith and Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara.

Four of the women wanted to be interviewed by your NewsChannel team.

"We wanted to come here to say it really happened," said Osnat Kraus. "It's not in our imagination. We lost our friend. Some of us lost their children."

They said the unimaginable horror of that day -- and the excruciating weeks following -- have brought them closer together. Their settlement of 800 stood just over a mile from the border with Gaza, up until 17 weeks ago.

"Everyone knows everyone," said Elinor Bitton-Bariach. "Everyone of our community lost the community and the soul of it because about 10% of our community murdered that day. And we just need everyone to remember the facts."

"I was home, 6:29 am when the attack started," said Michal Rottenberg.

Some of the woman remained inside the safe room of their homes for more than 30 hours. They said it wasn't "luck" but a "miracle" that they survived.

Left to right: Elinor Bitton-Bariach, Ruth Joffe, Osnat Kraus, Michal Rottenberg

Others stressed astonishment at how long it took to get word out to the world at large. And, heart-wrenching details.

"It’s amazing that the world closed their mouths about what happened to the women there. It’s like it took so long to start talking about it," said Ruth Joffe, referring to the women who were raped.

An opening at the border near Kibbutz K'far Azza was one of 30 entry points for Hamas terrorists that day. The women shared that 100 of their neighbors were killed. Five of their children's best friends are still being held hostage.

The group is on a mission, urging people around the world to actively help bring all of the hostages home. They revealed troubling images that they've seen of some of the thinning hostages, in poor health.

"The first thing that we want is to bring all of them home safe and sound, hopefully. Although we know they are not safe and they are not sound," said Rottenberg.

 Their quest is the sole focus for these mothers, grandmothers and, survivors.

"I think the amount of emotional strength to have is like pushing a big rock up a hill. To leave it behind and say ok, we have this but, we have to go on," said Kraus, as she wiped away tears.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about Beth, click here


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