The Israeli military said on Tuesday it launched a probe into friendly fire deaths and possible breaches of the law during fighting in Israel which occurred in response to the October 7 Hamas attack and in its immediate wake. Several reports in Israeli media have indicated multiple civilians were killed by Israeli military fire.
Haaretz says the investigation will focus primarily on an incident in Kibbutz Be’eri where a house holding more than a dozen Israeli civilians and their Hamas captors was shelled by an Israeli tank leaving one survivor. A hostage who was released from the house by a Hamas fighter as well as the single survivor of the tank attack have confirmed this story.
“The IDF is operating the Fact Finding and Assessment Mechanism (FFAM) to examine reports and complaints regarding the violation of Israeli and international law during the fighting,” the military’s statement said. It adds that the investigation is in early stages and materials are being collected.
Once the probe is completed, the materials will be transferred to the Military Advocate General’s office and a decision will be made whether sufficient grounds exist to start a military police investigation.
The October 7 attack saw nearly 400 military personnel and 695 civilians killed, an unknown but potentially high number of those civilian casualties were taken at the hands of the Israeli military. The attack itself as well as the inflated death toll – which has been reduced over time by the Israeli authorities – were used as a casus belli to justify the genocidal ethnic cleansing currently taking place in the Gaza Strip. More than 27,000 Palestinians in the besieged enclave have been killed including over 11,000 children.
A recent investigation by the Israeli outlet Ynet indicates that the “Hannibal Directive,” a notorious Israeli policy that intends to prevent Israelis being captured by enemy forces even if that means killing the hostages themselves, was implicitly implemented in response to the October 7 assault.
The policy, which dates back to the 1980s during Israel’s brutal occupation of southern Lebanon, is designed to preclude negotiations between Tel Aviv and anti-occupation resistance factions wherein the opposition holds leverage.
If the investigation focuses solely on Kibbutz Be’eri then it may overlook some more egregious examples of the directive being followed such as at the Nova Music Festival, which was attacked that day. The Ynet report says “some 70 vehicles,” many of which contained Israeli captives, were exploded by Israeli helicopter gunships, tanks, and drones. “At least in some of the cases, everyone in the vehicle was killed.” Haaretz previously reported on Israeli helicopters firing on Hamas targets and killing Israeli civilians fleeing the festival.
The Ynet investigation continues, “the instruction was to stop ‘at any cost’ any attempt by Hamas terrorists to return to Gaza, using language very similar to that of the original Hannibal Directive, despite repeated promises by the defense apparatus that the directive had been canceled.”