Israel military says it failed to protect kibbutz during Hamas-led attack

The report stated that the military was unprepared and slow to respond to the attack while fighting was uncoordinated.

Kibbutz beeri
An Israeli soldier inside a ruined house in Kibbutz Be’eri , near the border with Gaza in southern Israel , October 25, 2023 [Abir Sultan/EPA-EFE]

The Israeli military has acknowledged it did not protect the community of Kibbutz Be’eri during the Hamas-led attack on October 7, in its first investigation into its own security failings on the day of the attacks.

More than 100 people were killed in the attack on Be’eri, a community of about 1,000 people, and 32 were taken as captives to Gaza, 11 of whom are still being held there.

The military said on Thursday the probe examined the day’s chain of events, fighting and security forces’ conduct.

While acknowledging its own failure in protecting the kibbutz civilians, the military hailed the bravery of Be’eri residents, including its rapid response team.

Israel’s military was unprepared for the scenario of a massive infiltration of Hamas fighters into Israel, had inadequate forces in the area, did not have a clear picture of the events until noon – several hours after the attack began, did not properly alert Be’eri’s residents, and its fighting was uncoordinated, the investigation found.

Kibbutz clean up
A member of ZAKA International Rescue Unit cleans up a room after Hamas attacked Holit on October 7 [File: Nils Adler/Al Jazeera]

The probe, however, did not find fault in tank fire towards a house where fighters were holding some 15 people captive, an incident that has drawn criticism in Israel for having put civilians in harm’s way.

“After shooting was heard from the house and the terrorists announced their intent to kill themselves and the hostages, the forces decided to storm it in order to save the hostages,” the military’s summary said.

“The team found that the civilians inside the house were not hurt by the tank shells,” the summary said; however, it argued that further investigation is needed to determine how hostages inside died, with signs pointing to them having been killed by the gunmen.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant [File: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday called for a state inquiry into the security failings of the October 7 attack.

He said the probe should investigate Gallant himself and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has dismissed past calls to form a state inquiry.

The military presented its report to Be’eri’s residents, many of whom are among the tens of thousands of Israelis still displaced since the October 7 attack, which precipitated Israel’s war on Gaza.

“I didn’t need all these details,” said Miri Gad Mesika, a kibbutz member. “What matters to me is why what happened happened, how we can prevent it from happening again, how we can bring back our hostages and how we can feel secure again.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies