About a year ago, a dozen city councilmembers led by the chair of the Jewish Caucus, Eric Dinowitz, visited Israel, seeing sites from the northern border of Lebanon to the south, near the Gaza border.

“Towards the end of the trip, we visited the kibbutz called Kfar Aza, right next to Gaza,” Dinowitz told NY1. “You walk on, it’s like almost any little small town there were kids playing on playgrounds, you saw kids on their bicycle, friends talking to one another.”

It was an idyllic home to about 700 people that is now in ruins after Gaza militants murdered families, from babies to the elderly, and took people hostage.

What You Need To Know

  • Councilmembers on a trip to Israel last year visited Kfar Aza, a kibbutz near the border of Gaza

  • Kfar Aza was the scene of bloodshed during an attack by Hamas militants, who killed entire families and took hostages

  • Councilman Eric Dinowitz, head of the Jewish Caucus, said he wants a resolution from the Council condemning Hamas

“We finally got in touch with our host. She’s thankfully OK, but her friends and family aren’t. And it really hit us, I think, at home, personally, that we developed these friendships and relationships with people who live in Israel and to see them massacred, I mean, the numbers are astounding,” Dinowitz said.

While visiting the kibbutz, the councilmembers learned about the threat of violence — rockets and gunfire — that they lived under each day.

“It’s one thing to hear the stories and hear [our host] tell us and certainly show us the images, but then as we’re walking through and seeing the bullet holes in the schools, seeing playgrounds very close to where those bullet holes were, now knowing the consequences of being too close,” Councilwoman Marjorie Velázquez, a Bronx Democrat who went on the trip, said.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York organized the tour. The group’s interim CEO, Noam Gilboord was there, including Kfar Aza.

“A few months ago, some of us are literally just playing basketball with some kids there — young kids, or enjoying lunch in the cafeteria or watching the seniors on their walks,” Gilboord said. “We don’t know who is alive, who is dead, who is taken hostage. It’s horrible.”

These trips provide councilmembers an opportunity to see the humanity behind the conflict.

“I’m confident that everyone who’s been on the trip with us now really understands the trauma that we here in New York, in the New York Jewish community, are experiencing,” Gilboord said.

Councilman Dinowitz said he wants to see a resolution in the City Council condemning Hamas.

A City Council spokeswoman said there are ongoing discussions about how the Council can best respond to these tragic events.