Families of Israelis killed by military on 7 October demand investigation

Families of Israelis killed by military on 7 October demand investigation
The demand was prompted by revelations about an incident in Kibbutz Be'eri, where a tank was ordered to open fire on a house where Israeli hostages were present
3 min read
09 January, 2024
Kibbutz Be'eri was the scene of intense fighting between Hamas fighters and the Israeli military [Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images]

The family members of Israelis killed during fighting on 7 October between the Israeli military and Hamas are demanding an internal probe over the military's conduct on the day.

The demand for a probe was prompted by revelations about an incident in Kibbutz Be'eri, where a tank was ordered by Brigadier General Barak Hiram to open fire on a house where Hamas fighters were holed up with Israeli hostages.

According to Haaretz, the demands were made prior to a New York Times investigation into the incident which saw Hiram, who had been tasked with commanding the Israeli response in Be'eri, admit to ordering the tank to open fire on the house.

The letter written by the families demands that the Israeli military provide "a comprehensive and transparent probe into the decisions and actions that led to this tragic outcome. In addition, we request that the findings be provided to the families and only after that to the public".

The letter added that the investigation by the military should be made before Israel's war on Gaza ends, while "the memory is still fresh for all involved" and before the house where the incident took place is demolished.

Two survivors, Yasmin Porat and Hadas Dagan, have publicly spoken about the incident to the press, with Porat saying that she witnessed the shelling after a Hamas fighter to her to the Israeli military.

According to Haaretz, the Hamas fighters had sought guarantees for safe passage back to Gaza along with the hostages.

Porat also said that she had told the military after her release that 14 hostages were inside the building along with dozens of Hamas fighters.

Dagan also confirmed Porat's testimony to Israel's Channel 12 and told the New York Times that an Israeli tank shell killed her husband.

According to Haaretz the military has since stated that a probe would occur "when operational status would allow it".

The Israeli military has backed its soldiers who took part in the 7 October response, saying "commanders fought with great bravery". It has also praised Hiram as "a distinguished, valuable and respected officer who fought bravely during the events of October 7".

The demand for an inquiry by the hostages' families comes as Israeli Chief of Staff General Herzi Halevi announced the formation of a team of former military officials in order to examine the army's failures before and on 7 October Hamas attack on southern Israel in which killed 1,140 people and took 250 hostages into Gaza.

An earlier Israeli death toll of over 1,400 has been revised down twice, with Israeli prime ministerial aide Mark Regev saying in a 16 November interview on MSNBC that around 200 of the charred and unidentifiable remains were those of Palestinian fighters.

The revelations from witnesses and Israeli officials have raised questions about whether Israel employed the 'Hannibal Directive' on 7 October – an Israeli military policy of killing captives to avoid costly negotiations.

Israeli officials have claimed that the directive, which was first introduced in 1986 in response to the capture of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah, was abolished in 2016.