IDF investigation clears commander of killing civilians in Kibbutz Be’eri tank attack

General Barak Hiram ordered shelling on a home containing Hamas terrorists and hostages during the defence of the kibbutz on October 7


Commander of the 99th Division Brig. Gen. Barak Hiram in southern Israel on October 11, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

An IDF investigation has found that small arms fire, not a tank shell killed hostages in a Be’eri home on October 7, clearing a commander of wrongdoing.

On October 7, an IDF tank fired on the home of Pasi Cohen in Kibbutz Be’eri under the orders of Barak Hiram, the commanding officer of the unit. 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 with investigators concluding that the hostages were killed by AK-47 rifles, not a tank shell.

The findings clear Brigadier General Hiram, commander of the military’s 99th Division, of wrongdoing. Hiram suffered from months of online attacks in connection with the tragic incident after being accused of killing Israeli civilians.

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.

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 the West Bank came under criticism from 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 stood by Hiram and responded to the attack: “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.”

Earlier this year, Hiram was censured by the IDF for ordering the destruction of Gaza University buildings without required permission.

In a statement, the IDF said: “The investigation revealed that the Hamas terror organization used the building and its surroundings for military activity against our forces, but the process of collapsing the building was done without the required approvals,”

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