update deskIsrael at War

Investigation clears IDF general of wrongdoing in failed Oct. 7 hostage rescue

A report found that 13 hostages were killed in a Kibbutz Be'eri house by AK-47 fire, not a tank shell fired on the order of IDF Brig. Gen. Barak Hiram.

The destruction left in the wake of Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists infiltrated the Gaza border in southern Israel, and wreaked havoc on the residents of Kibbutz Be'eri, Oct. 22, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
The destruction left in the wake of Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists infiltrated the Gaza border in southern Israel, and wreaked havoc on the residents of Kibbutz Be'eri, Oct. 22, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

An Israel Defense Forces Armored Corps investigation has found that small arms fire, not a tank shell fired on the order of IDF Brig. Gen Barak Hiram, killed hostages in a Be’eri home on Oct. 7, Channel 12 News reported on Tuesday night.

On Oct. 7, an IDF tank fired on the home of Pasi Cohen in Kibbutz Be’eri. The house, which had been taken over by Hamas terrorists, also had 15 Israeli hostages inside it.

Only two of the 15 hostages inside survived the fighting—Hadas Dagan and Yasmin Porat. The Armored Corps investigation of the incident wrapped up on Tuesday, according to Channel 12.

Investigators concluded that the hostages were killed by AK-47 rifles, not a tank shell. 

The findings clear Brig. Gen. Hiram, commander of the military’s 99th Division, of wrongdoing. Hiram suffered from months of online attacks in connection with the tragic incident.

According to Channel 12 journalist Amit Segal, the investigation did find that one of the hostages, who was in the yard of the house, was apparently killed by shrapnel, but was unable to determine its source. 

A separate investigation by the Israel Antiquities Authority, based on findings in the field, reached similar conclusions.

It should be noted that the IDF’s overall investigation into the events of Oct. 7 has not yet been completed.

The event made headlines after Hiram gave an interview to The New York Times in which he said that after failed negotiations with the terrorists in the house, he had ordered a tank “to break in, even at the cost of civilian casualties.” Footage captured by a military helicopter showed an IDF tank firing shells at the house. The two survivors testified that the house was shelled by a tank.

Hiram, a religious Jew who lives in Tekoa, a town in Gush Etzion, came under attack from individuals self-identifying as left-wing activists in the days after Hamas’s massacre, who accused him of killing the hostages. 

Left-wing activist Naava Rozolyo wrote: “Hiram’s crazy order led to the elimination of 12 Israeli hostages, including children. It is not irrelevant to mention that Barak Hiram is a son of religious Zionism and he still has not been suspended.”

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich immediately stood by Hiram and responded to the attack: “I don’t know who this Naava Rozolyo is, but what I do know is that we cannot let these forces of hatred win. Col. Barak Hiram is a hero of Israel. He commanded the forces after the terrible attack on Black Saturday [Oct. 7], as a commander in the field he has the full support of the political leadership and the people for the impossible decisions a commander has to make.”

Prior to Oct. 7 and the resulting controversy, Hiram was in line to be the next commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division. However, since the war began, and due to the controversy on this issue and Hiram’s formal censure after demolishing Israa University on Jan. 17 without the required approvals, his appointment seems to be on hold.

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