Skip to main content

Israeli army investigation suggests many 7 October casualties caused by friendly fire

The findings of the Israeli report are consistent with the results of a UN inquiry earlier this month
A protester holds a sign identifying Karina Ariev, 19, one of the people taken captive in the Gaza Strip by Palestinian fighters during the 7 October attacks, on 18 June 2024 (AFP)
A protester holds a sign identifying Karina Ariev, 19, one of the people taken captive in the Gaza Strip by Palestinian fighters during the 7 October attacks, on 18 June 2024 (AFP)

An Israeli army investigation has suggested there were large numbers of casualties as a result of friendly fire on 7 October.

During the operation to counter Hamas-led forces that broke into southern Israel, there were "multiple incidents of our forces firing on our forces," according to the investigation, as reported by Israeli outlet N12.

The investigation comes as evidence continues to mount of some Israeli deaths on 7 October being caused - both intentionally and unintentionally - by their own forces.

Earlier in June, a UN report found that at least 14 Israelis were likely intentionally killed by the Israeli army on 7 October as part of a protocol aimed at preventing capture.

The report by the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI) documented repeated uses of the so-called Hannibal Directive on 7 October as Israel was combatting Hamas fighters who entered southern Israel from Gaza.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


The directive, when active, indicates that the Israeli army should use any and all means to prevent the capture of Israeli soldiers, even if it involves killing them.

The COI said it had confirmed one statement by an Israeli security forces tank crew, "confirming that the crew had applied the Hannibal Directive by shooting at a vehicle which they suspected was transporting abducted [Israeli] soldiers".

It said it also had verified information indicating that, in at least two other cases, the security forces had likely applied the Hannibal Directive, resulting in the killing of up to 14 Israeli civilians.

UN finds at least 14 Israelis likely intentionally killed by own army on 7 October
Read More »

"One woman was killed by [Israeli] helicopter fire while being abducted from Nir Oz to Gaza by militants," said the report, referring to one of the Kibbutzim from which people were abducted by Palestinian fighters.

"In another case the Commission found that Israeli tank fire killed some or all of the 13 civilian hostages held in a house in Beeri," it said, referring to another Kibbutz. 

More than 1,100 people were killed in the 7 October attack after Hamas and other armed groups broke through the barriers cutting Gaza off from southern Israel.

The N12 report added that the expected appointment of Brigadier General Barak Hiram to head of the army's Gaza Division is likely to be delayed with an acting head appointed until an investigation into events at Kibbutz Beeri on 7 October is completed.

According to reports, several Israeli captives being held by Palestinian fighters in Beeri were killed during crossfire with Israel's military, in what was described as "a delayed and chaotic military response". 

The Israeli military launched a rocket-propelled grenade at the house, according to witnesses. 

Hiram, who was in charge of recapturing the kibbutz from Hamas fighters, recalled telling his men: "Break in, even at the cost of civilian casualties."

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.