‘Beyond description’: Minnesotan recounts time in Israel as part of bipartisan delegation

The group visited Kfar Aza, a kibbutz in southern Israel located just two miles from Gaza. "They were absolutely slaughtered. That's the only word to describe it," Campbell said.

A hostage memorial in Tel Aviv. The Shabbat table is set for the 240 hostages. (Mike Campbell)

A bipartisan delegation composed of political, community, and business leaders from across the United States recently traveled to Israel to learn firsthand about the Oct. 7 atrocities committed by Hamas.

“It wasn’t a fun trip. Our responsibility was to learn the truth, the unfiltered truth about what’s happening in Israel right now. To see it with our own eyes,” Mike Campbell, who works for the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus, told Alpha News.

Mike Campbell (right) with security preparing to enter Kfar Aza. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had secured the location and granted permission for the delegation to enter. (Mike Campbell)

The group, consisting of 10 individuals from states ranging from California and New York to Minnesota and Texas, was organized by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), a group affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Delegation from left to right: Henry Beck (Treasurer – Maine), Grant Moodie (US Naval Academy graduate and treasurer of Bexar County, TX), Mike Campbell (Director of the Minnesota Senate Victory Fund), James Williams (President and CEO of Estelle Foods – St. Louis, MO), Shane Lesko (Midwest Regional Director, AIPAC and AIEF), Elizabeth Valdez (President, Valdez Organization – New York City, NY), Saul Garcia (Vice president of Saora LLC – Texas), Karl Douglass (Regional Director from Georgia for AIPAC and AIEF), David Dix (President of Luminous Strategies – Hershey, PA) Missing from photo: Gregg Keller (President of Atlas Strategy Group – St. Louis, MO) and Victor Christy (Director of Political Engagement for the California Primary Care Association)

Campbell estimated the delegation consisted of approximately three or four Republicans and six or seven Democrats.

The group visited Kfar Aza, a kibbutz in southern Israel located just two miles from Gaza. “They were absolutely slaughtered. That’s the only word to describe it,” Campbell said of those who lived in Kfar Aza. When Hamas invaded the kibbutz, up to 72 individuals, including elderly women and men, were murdered, Campbell said. He was informed that 18 were then taken hostage, and 12 to 15 from the kibbutz remain hostages.

Hamas destruction at Kfar Aza. When Hamas could not enter a building, they poured gasoline and burned innocent people alive, Campbell said. (Mike Campbell)

Campbell said the kibbutz was home to around 800 people. “After Hamas had finished the kibbutz, the Palestinians from Gaza followed them and went in there, finished off whoever was left there and still alive and basically looted the kibbutz,” he said. “Any discussion of moral equivalency is antisemitic and evil.”

Campbell was at a loss for words when he learned of the horrific nature of the acts committed by Hamas. “What they did to the women was horrific, evil, and beyond description,” he said. “They slaughtered people. They laughed about it. They filmed it. And they did it with glee.”

Campbell said this was the most difficult place they saw in Kfar Aza. Sivan and Naor, a young couple, were murdered by Hamas in their home. They were both in their 20s. (Mike Campbell)
Bullet holes in the home of Sivan and Naor. (Mike Campbell)

Campbell said two of the members of the delegation had been in battle before, but the sights that greeted them in Israel were unlike anything they’d ever seen. “Two members of our delegation had been in battle and they said they’d never seen anything like this,” he recalled.

While they were at Kfar Aza they could feel the earth shaking beneath them and hear bombs going off nearby. The delegation also visited Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where heavy security measures were in place as they met with retired generals and intelligence officials.

The delegation had just heard a bomb explode in Gaza. An IDF communication specialist explained that the bomb was theirs and that the group was safe. (Mike Campbell)

Campbell provided insights into the shifting perspectives within Israel regarding a two-state solution. “In Israel right now, in the past, it was probably 55% that supported the two-state solution. Today, I don’t think you could find a single person in Israel who supports the two-state solution.”

He attributed this change in sentiment to the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, suggesting it may have been part of Hamas’ goal.

The delegation also visited with wounded IDF soldiers during their trip. One young man had his left leg blown off by a rocket-propelled grenade.

The delegation with a wounded IDF soldier. (Mike Campbell)

In Tel Aviv, they encountered memorials to the men, women and children who were taken hostage by Hamas. One memorial was a Shabbat table set for 240, the estimated number of people who were initially held hostage.

“Every drop of blood spilled in this war, in Gaza, Israel, and Lebanon is on the hands of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran,” Campbell said.


Hayley Feland

Hayley Feland previously worked as a journalist with The Minnesota Sun, The Wisconsin Daily Star, and The College Fix. She is a Minnesota native with a passion for politics and journalism.