Evidence is emerging that more than half of the Israelis killed were combatants; that Israeli forces were responsible for the deaths of some of their own civilians; and that Tel Aviv spread false stories about “Hamas atrocities” to justify its devastating airstrike against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
Two weeks after Hamas’ assault on Israel on October 7, a clearer picture of what happened, who died and who killed, is now beginning to emerge.
Instead of the large-scale massacre of civilians claimed by Israel, partial data published by the Jewish newspaper Haaretz shows that nearly half of the Israelis killed that day were actually combatants: soldiers or police.
Meanwhile, two weeks of widespread Western media reports that Hamas killed some 1,400 Israeli civilians during its October 7 military attack have served to inflame tempers and create the climate for the uncontrolled destruction of the Gaza Strip and the its civilian population by Israel.
Reports of the Israeli death toll have been filtered and distorted to suggest that a large-scale massacre of civilians occurred that day, with infants, children and women the primary targets of a terrorist attack.
Now, detailed casualty statistics published by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz paint a completely different picture. As of October 23, the newspaper has released information on 683 Israelis killed in the Hamas-led attack, including their names and the locations of their deaths on October 7.
Of these, 331 victims, or 48.4%, were confirmed to be soldiers and police officers, many of them women. A further 13 are described as members of the rescue service, and the remaining 339 are apparently considered civilians.
While this list is not comprehensive and represents only about half of Israel’s reported death toll, nearly half of those killed in the clash are clearly identified as Israeli fighters.
Furthermore, no deaths of children under the age of three have been recorded so far, which calls into question the Israeli narrative that children were targeted by Palestinian Resistance fighters. Of the 683 total victims reported so far, seven were between the ages of 4 and 7 and nine were between the ages of 10 and 17. The remaining 667 victims appear to be adults.
The number and percentage of Palestinian civilians and children among those killed by Israeli shelling over the past two weeks, more than 5,791 dead, including 2,360 children and 1,292 women, and more than 18,000 injured, are far higher than any of these Israeli figures that have emerged from the events of October 7th.
The audacious Hamas-led military Operation, code-named Al-Aqsa Wave, unfolded with a dramatic dawn attack around 6:30 am (Palestinian time) on October 7. This was accompanied by a blare of sirens that broke the silence of Occupied Jerusalem, signaling the beginning of what has become an extraordinary event in the 75-year history of the State of Occupation.
According to the spokesperson of the armed wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades, around 1,500 Palestinian fighters have crossed the formidable Gaza-Israel separation barrier.
However, this escape was not limited to Hamas forces alone; numerous armed fighters belonging to other factions such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) subsequently violated the armistice line, along with some Palestinians not affiliated with any organized militia.
When it became apparent that this was no ordinary Resistance Operation, hundreds of videos quickly flooded social media, depicting dead Israeli troops and settlers, fierce firefights between various sides, and Israelis captured and taken to Gaza.
These videos were shot with Israeli phones or released by Palestinian fighters filming their own Operation. It was only hours later that more gruesome and decidedly dubious allegations began to emerge.
The “atrocities” of Hamas
Aviva Klompas, a former speechwriter for the Israeli mission to the United Nations, was the first prominent Israeli to break the news that there were reports of “Israeli girls being raped and their bodies dragged in the streets.”
He published this post on of any sexual violence.
Klompas is also the co-founder of Boundless Israel, an “active think tank” that works “to revitalize education in Israel and take bold collective action to combat Jew-hatred.” An “unapologetically Zionist” charity group that works to promote Israeli narratives on social media.
The only case publicized as evidence of rape was that of a young German-Israeli woman named Shani Louk, who was filmed face down in the back of a pickup truck and left for dead.
It was unclear whether the fighters filmed with Louk in the Gaza-bound vehicle were Hamas members, as they were not wearing the uniforms or insignia of Al-Qassam troops identifiable in other Hamas videos, some even wearing civilian clothes and sandals.
Later, her mother claimed to have evidence that her daughter was still alive, but she had suffered a serious head injury. This rings true from information released by Hamas that Louk was being treated for her injuries at an unspecified hospital in Gaza.
To further complicate matters, on the day these rape allegations emerged, the Israelis would not have had access to this information. Their armed forces had not yet entered many, if not most, of the areas liberated from the Resistance and were still engaged in armed clashes with them on multiple fronts.
However, these rape allegations took on a life of their own, so much so that US President Joe Biden himself claimed, during a speech days later, that Israeli women had been “raped, assaulted and paraded like trophies” by Hamas fighters. It is important to note that The Forward’s October 11 article reported that the Israeli military acknowledged that it had no evidence of such allegations at that time.
When the army later made its own allegations of beheadings, amputations and rapes, Reuters pointed out that “military personnel supervising the identification process did not present any forensic evidence in the form of images or clinical reports.” To date, no credible evidence of these atrocities has been presented.
Other outrageous allegations, such as the story that Hamas “beheaded 40 children,” made headlines and filled the front pages of countless Western newspapers. Even Biden said he saw “photos of terrorists beheading children.” The claims date back to Israeli settler and reservist soldier David Ben Zion, who previously instigated violent attacks against Palestinians and called for the West Bank town of Huwara to be wiped out. No evidence was ever produced to support these claims and the White House itself later confirmed that Joe Biden had never seen such photos.
What was Hamas’ plan
There is little to no credible evidence that Palestinian fighters had a plan to, or deliberately attempted to, kill or harm unarmed Israeli civilians on October 7. From the available footage, we see that they engaged primarily with the Israeli military, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of occupation soldiers. As the Spokesman of the Qassam Brigades, Abu Obeida, clarified on 12 October:
“Operation Al-Aqsa Wave aimed to destroy the Gaza Division (an Israeli army unit on the borders of Gaza) which was attacked at 15 points, followed by the attack on another 10 military targets. We attacked the Zikim site and several other settlements outside the Gaza Division headquarters.”
Abu Obeida and other Resistance officials say the other key objective of their operation was to take Israeli prisoners who they could exchange for the approximately 5,300 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons, many of whom are women and minors.
Both sides play this game: Since the military assault on Gaza began, Israel has rounded up and imprisoned more than 1,200 Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank. To date there have been 38 prisoner exchange deals between Resistance factions and Tel Aviv, deals that the Israelis often resist until the last minute.
As these testimonies come in, reports are emerging that Israeli authorities have escalated the mistreatment, torture and even killing of Palestinian prisoners in their custody, a violation of the Geneva Conventions, which, ironically, a non-state actor like Hamas seems to have followed it to the letter.
In relation to the events of October 7, there are certainly some videos depicting perhaps unarmed Israelis being killed in their vehicles or at the entrance to the facilities, so that Palestinian troops could gain access.
There are also videos showing fighters engaged in shootouts with Israeli forces, while unarmed Israelis took cover in the middle, as well as videos of fighters shooting at houses and throwing grenades into fortified areas. Eyewitness accounts also suggest that grenades were thrown into air raid shelters, although it is unclear by whom.
Even during the Israeli “peace festival,” which was cited as the deadliest attack committed by Palestinian fighters during their operation, videos emerged that appeared to show Israeli forces opening fire through a crowd of unarmed civilians, toward targets they believed were Hamas members. ABC News also reported that an Israeli tank had headed towards the festival site.
The massacre in Kibbutz Be’eri
In its reporting on the events at Kibbutz Be’eri, ABC News photographed artillery pieces resembling Israeli munitions outside a bombed house. Journalist David Muir reported that Hamas fighters were found following the attack, covered in plastic sheets.
Additionally, videos from the scene show houses that appear to have been hit by munitions that Hamas fighters do not possess. Muir said around 14 people were held hostage in a building by Palestinian fighters.
A Hebrew-language Haaretz article published on October 20, which appears only in English in a must-read Mondoweiss article, paints a very different story of what happened to Be’eri that day. A Kibbutz resident who was away from home and whose partner was killed in the crash reveals startling new details:
“His voice trembles when he thinks of his partner, who at that moment was besieged in her house. According to him, only on Monday night (October 9) and only after field commanders had made difficult decisions, including bombing houses with all their occupants inside to eliminate the terrorists along with the hostages, did the IDF fully resume control of the kibbutz. The price was terrible: at least 112 people were killed in Be’Eri. Others were kidnapped. Yesterday, 11 days after the massacre, the bodies of a mother and her son were discovered in one of the destroyed houses. Other bodies are believed to still lie in the rubble.”
Photographic evidence of Be’Eri’s destruction confirms his account. Only the heavy ammunition of the Israeli army could have destroyed homes in this way.
Hamas behavior: evidence against accusations
Yasmin Porat, a survivor of Kibbutz Be’eri, said in an interview for an Israeli radio program, hosted by state broadcaster Kan, that Israeli forces “eliminated everyone, including the hostages,” further stating that “there ‘it was very, very heavy crossfire’ and even tank shelling.
Porat had attended the Nova festival and had testified to the humane treatment he received during several interviews conducted with the Israeli media. She explained that when she was held captive, Hamas fighters “were civilized,” telling her in Hebrew: “Look at me carefully, we won’t kill you. We want to take you to Gaza. We won’t kill you. So stay calm, you won’t die. She also added the following:
“They gave us drinks when we were thirsty. When they saw that we were nervous they reassured us. It was very scary but no one bullied us. Fortunately, nothing similar to what I heard from the media happened to me.”
Increasingly, and to the horror of some Israeli officials and media outlets, Israeli eyewitnesses and survivors of the bloodshed testify that they were treated humanely by Palestinian fighters. On October 24, Israeli state broadcaster Kan complained that hostage Yocheved Lifshitz, released by Hamas the day before, was allowed to make live statements.
Israeli friendly fire was rampant, even in the following days, from an army with very little real combat experience. In the city of Ashkelon (Askalan) on October 8, Israeli soldiers shot and shouted abuse at the body of a man they believed to be a Hamas fighter, but later realized they had executed a Israeli. This is just one of three examples of friendly fire in one day, resulting in Israelis being killed by their own troops.
In the fog of war, the warring parties have different perspectives on what happened during the initial attack and its aftermath. There is no dispute that Palestinian armed groups have inflicted significant losses on the Israeli army, but there will be much debate about everything else in the weeks and months ahead.
An independent and impartial international investigation is urgently needed, with access to information from all parties involved in the conflict. Neither the Israelis nor the Americans will agree on this, which in itself suggests that Tel Aviv has a lot to hide.
Meanwhile, Palestinian civilians in Gaza suffer continuous and indiscriminate attacks with the most sophisticated heavy weapons in existence, living under the persistent threat of forced and potentially irreversible displacement. This Israeli aerial bombardment was only made possible by the flood of unfounded stories about “Hamas atrocities” that the media began spreading starting on October 7.
Robert Inlakesh and Sharmine Narwani – for The Cradle, Translated by www.marx21.it
Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has been a correspondent and resident in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and has worked with RT, Mint Press, MEMO, Quds News, TRT, Al-Mayadeen English and others.
This article is originally published on .farodiroma.it