Yasmin Porat, a survivor of the bloodbath on Kibbutz Be’eri near the Gaza border, says many Israeli civilians were killed by Israeli forces
An Israeli woman who survived the Hamas offensive against settlements near the Gaza border on October 7 says Israeli civilians were “without a doubt“ killed by their own security forces.
This happened as Israeli forces engaged in fierce exchanges of fire with Palestinian fighters at Kibbutz Be’eri and fired indiscriminately at Palestinian fighters and their Israeli prisoners.
“They liquidated everyone, including the hostages,” she told Israeli radio.
“There were very, very fierce exchanges of fire” and even tank fire.
The woman, Yasmin Porat, 44 and a mother of three, said that before that, she and other civilians had been detained by Palestinians for several hours and treated “humanely.” She had run away from the “Nova” rave party, which was taking place not far away.
A recording of her interview, from the radio show Haboker Hazeh (“This Morning”), hosted by Aryeh on the public channel Kan, circulated on a number of social media.
The interview was first translated by The Electronic Intifada. You can listen to it with English subtitles. A transcript of this interview is also included at the end of this article. (*)
Remarkably, the interview is not included in the online version of Haboker Hazeh of October 15, that is to say the very episode in which it was apparently broadcast.
It may well have been censored, given its explosive nature.
Porat, who comes from Kabri, a settlement near the Lebanese border, has certainly experienced terrible things and has seen many non-combatants killed. Her own partner, Tal Katz, is himself among the dead.
However, Porat’s account undermines the official Israeli narrative of wanton, deliberate killings committed by Palestinian fighters.
Although it no longer appears on Kan’s website, there can be little doubt as to the authenticity of the recording.
At least one Hebrew-language account posted part of the interview on Twitter – whose official name was changed to X – and accused Kan of operating as a “media in the service of Hamas.”
Porat also gave her account to the Israeli newspaper Maariv .
However, the story published in Maariv on October 9, made no specific mention of civilians killed by Israeli forces.
And, in a half-hour interview on Channel 12 (Israel) on Thursday, Porat talks about an intense firefight after Israeli forces arrived. Porat herself was shot in the thigh.
Not only does Porat explain to Kan that Israelis were killed during the heavy counterattack by Israeli security forces, but she also says that she and other captive civilians were treated well by the Palestinian fighters.
Porat was present at the “Nova” rave party when the Hamas offensive began with missile fire and the arrival of motorized paragliders. She and her partner Tal Katz escaped by car to the nearby Kibbutz Be’eri, where many of the events she describes in her media interviews took place.
According to what Porat says in Maariv, she and Katz first sought refuge in the house of a couple named Adi and Hadas Dagan. After being discovered by Palestinian fighters, all were taken to another house, where eight people were already being held captive and another was dead.
Porat said the dead man’s wife “told them that when they [Hamas fighters] tried to enter, the man tried to stop them and grabbed the door. They had shot into the door and he had been killed. They didn’t execute him.”
“They did not assault us. They treated us humanely,” Porat told a surprised Golan during the Kan radio interview.
“I mean they took care of us,” she said.
“They gave us something to drink from time to time. When they saw that we were nervous, they calmed us down. It was very scary, but no one treated us violently. Luckily, nothing happened to me that I heard in the media.”
“They were very humane towards us,” Porat said in her Channel 12 interview. She recalled that a Palestinian warrior who spoke Hebrew told her:
“’Take a good look at me. We’re not going to kill you. We want to take you to Gaza. We’re not going to kill you. So stay calm, you’re not going to die.’ This is what he told me. These are his own words.”
“I was calm because I knew nothing would happen to me,” she added.
“They told us that we were not going to die, that they wanted to take us to Gaza and that the next day they would send us back to the border,” Porat explained in Maariv.
In the Channel 12 interview, Porat said that although the Palestinian fighters all had loaded weapons, she never saw them shoot captives or threaten them with their weapons.
Besides giving the captives drinking water, she said the fighters let them go outside on the lawn because it was hot, especially since the electricity was out because it had been cut.
Young and scared
About eight hours after the Hamas attack began and half an hour after Porat called the police, Israeli forces arrived and chaos ensued, Porat told Kan.
“To begin with, there were no [Israeli] security forces with us,” Porat recalled, noting that her first call to the Israeli police went unanswered.
“It was us who called the police along with the kidnappers, because they wanted the police to come, since that was their objective: to kidnap us and take us to Gaza.”
“They understood that the soldiers did not want to kill the hostages. So, they wanted to come out with us alive, so that the police would allow them,” Porat told Channel 12.
Although the Israeli captives numbered barely a dozen, Porat was tasked with telling Israeli police that 40 of them were in the hands of Hamas fighters, who themselves numbered between 40 and 50. and were mostly between 20 and 30 years old. They themselves were young and quite scared, she told Channel 12.
A fighter described by Porat as a commander in his mid-30s asked to speak to the police and was confronted by an Israeli officer who spoke Arabic.
After a brief conversation, the approximately four dozen Palestinian fighters and their dozen Israeli prisoners waited for the army to arrive, while some spilled out into the garden to relieve themselves of the afternoon heat.
Hails of bullets, mortar shells and tanks
Israeli forces announced their arrival with hails of projectiles of all kinds, taking the Palestinian fighters and their Israeli captives by surprise.
“We were outside and suddenly there was a volley of bullets against us from [Israeli unit] YAMAM. We all started running for cover,” Porat told Channel 12.
Porat said she surrendered to Israeli soldiers half an hour after the heavy firefight that consisted of “tens and hundreds and thousands of bullets and mortar shells flying in the air.”
One of the Palestinian fighters, a commander, had decided to surrender and had in effect used her as a human shield.
“He started by undressing,” Porat recalled to Kan’s Aryeh Golan.
“He called me and started leaving the house with me, under fire. It was at that moment that I shouted [to the Israeli commandos] (…) that, if they heard me, they should stop shooting.”
“Then they heard me and stopped shooting,” she added.
“I saw people from the kibbutz on the lawn. There were five or six hostages lying on the ground outside. Exactly like sheep ready for the slaughterhouse, between the shots of our commandos and those of the terrorists.”
“The terrorists had shot them?” asked Golan.
“No, they were killed in the crossfire,” Porat replied.
“You have to understand that the crossfire was very, very intense.”
Aryeh Golan insists :
“So it could be that our forces took them down?”
“Without a doubt,” replies the ex-captive, before adding:
“They took out everyone, including the hostages, because the crossfire was very, very intense.”
“After this crazy crossfire, two tank shells were fired at the house. It’s a small kibbutz house, nothing big,” Porat explained.
Porat and the man who took her prisoner both survived. The Palestinian was captured by Israeli forces. But, according to Porat, almost everyone in the settlement was killed, injured or missing, the latter probably taken to Gaza.
Porat told Kan that she had lost dozens of friends who had been to the rave party – these were people she saw regularly at such parties, which are common in Israel. “I’m angry at the state. I am angry with the army,” Porat said in Maariv . “For 10 hours, the kibbutz was abandoned.”
The joint US-Israeli effort to portray Hamas as worse than ISIS in order to justify Israel’s genocide against Gaza’s civilian population depends on the international public not seeing or hearing accounts like Porat’s.
Israeli leaders, already exposed to intense criticism for not having been able to anticipate and prevent the Hamas offensive, will also not want their catastrophic failures to be compensated for by the knowledge that many Israelis who lost their lives may well have been killed by “friendly fire” during a disastrous Israeli counterattack.
The Hannibal Directive?
Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas military commander, directly attacked Israeli allegations that his fighters were determined to deliberately kill as many civilians as possible.
The Israeli propaganda campaign has resorted to lurid atrocity stories – of which no evidence has been provided – that Palestinians had beheaded dozens of Israeli babies and that women had been raped.
Al-Arouri said in an interview with Al Jazeera on Thursday that fighters from his organization’s military forces, the Qassam Brigades, had been under strict orders not to harm civilians.
But al-Arouri said that after the Israeli Gaza Division – the army unit currently encircling the Gaza Strip – collapsed much faster than expected, the people of Gaza had rushed to the border area after learning it was open, and caused chaos. He added that this could include other armed people not part of Qassam.
Al-Arouri said that this pushed Qassam fighters to engage in fighting against soldiers, settlement guards and armed residents, leading to civilian deaths.
Al-Arouri also raised the possibility that Israel had used the infamous “Hannibal Directive” – a protocol that allows Israeli forces to use overwhelming force to kill one of their own captured soldiers rather than allowing him to be taken prisoner.
The motivation for the “Hannibal Directive” is to prevent the enemy from having prisoners that it could use in prisoner exchange negotiations.
However, in this case, if the directive had been implemented by Israeli forces, it would have been used against civilians.
Al-Arouri told Al Jazeera: “We are certain that our young men [our fighters] were bombed along with the prisoners who accompanied them.”
Porat’s account, among others, underscores the need for an independent investigation, the kind Israel would be unlikely to ever allow.
The current propaganda discourse is simply too valuable for the genocidaires in Tel Aviv.
Ali Abunimah, co-founder and executive director of The Electronic Intifada, is the author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine , published by Haymarket Books.
He also wrote: One Country: A Bold Proposal to end the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse
Investigative journalist David Sheen is the author of “Kahanism and American Politics: For Decades, the Democratic Party has Courted Racist Fanatics.”
(*) Transcription of the interview with Yasmin Porat by Kan
Yasmin Porat. For an hour they didn’t stop banging around ten terrorists against the vault. There were shouts in Arabic and it was a particularly tense hour. And we were very afraid, an indescribable fear. After an hour, they managed to enter and took the four of us to a nearby house where there were already eight other hostages. We joined these eight people, and so we were a dozen hostages, with 40 terrorists to guard us. I’ll keep it short.
Aryeh Golan. Did they rape you?
Yasmin Porat. They did not rape us. They treated us with great humanity, which means…
Aryeh Golan. With humanity? Really ?
Yasmin Porat. Yes, by that I mean they were guarding us. They gave us something to drink from time to time. When they saw that we were nervous, they helped us calm down. It was very scary, but no one treated us violently. Luckily, nothing happened to me that I heard in the media.
Aryeh Golan. Horrible, horrifying things happened.
Yasmin Porat. It’s true. But after two hours… Briefly, first, there was no [Israeli] security force with us. We were the ones who called the police at the same time as the kidnappers because they wanted the police to come, since their goal was to kidnap us and take us to Gaza.
[Here, skip or cut in the audio document]
Yasmin Porat. In the meantime, one of the terrorists had decided to surrender, the one with whom I had come into contact. During those two hours, I exchanged words with some of the kidnappers, with those who were guarding the hostages.
Aryeh Golan. Yes…
Yasmin Porat. And he decided to use me as a human shield. He decided to surrender. I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I understand it now in retrospect. He started to undress, called me and started leaving the house with me, under fire. At that point, I shouted to the YAMAM [an Israeli commando unit] that when they could hear me, they should stop shooting.
Aryeh Golan. Yes…
Yasmin Porat. And then they heard me and they stopped shooting. I saw on the grass, in the garden of the kibbutz people, five or six hostages lying on the ground outside, exactly like sheep at the slaughterhouse, between the shots of ours [our fighters] and those of the terrorists. .
Aryeh Golan. The terrorists had shot them?
Yasmin Porat. No, they had been killed in crossfire. You have to understand that the crossfire was very, very intense.
Aryeh Golan. So it could be that it was our forces that took them down?
Yasmin Porat. Without a doubt.
Aryeh Golan. When they tried to eliminate the kidnappers, Hamas?
Yasmin Porat. They eliminated everyone, including the hostages. Because the crossfire was very, very intense. I was released around 5:30 a.m. Apparently the fighting ended at 8:30 a.m. After this crazy crossfire, two tank shells were fired at the house. It was a small kibbutz house, nothing big. You saw it in the news.
Aryeh Golan. Yes.
Yasmin Porat. Not a very big place. And, by then, everyone had been killed. Everything was silent, except for one person limping. Hadas [Dagan], in the garden.
Aryeh Golan. How were they killed?
Yasmin Porat. By crossfire.
Aryeh Golan. The crossfire… So it could also be by our forces?
Yasmin Porat. Without a doubt.
Aryeh Golan. Really ?
Yasmin Porat. That’s what I believe.
Aryeh Golan. Whoa! That’s ugly!
Yasmin Porat. Yes. And they all died.
Aryeh Golan. And you, thanks to this terrorist who decided to surrender…
Yasmin Porat. Exactly…
Aryeh Golan. And you survived and everyone else was killed there.
Yasmin Porat. Except for one other woman who survived, they found her later. The person who handled the event checked to see if she was one of them, or something like that. They found her when she raised her head, in the middle of all the bodies. And then, quite simply…
Aryeh Golan. And your partner, who was with you?
Yasmin Porat. Kill.
Aryeh Golan. Was he killed too?
Yasmin Porat. Yes. Everyone was killed there. It’s just horrible.
Aryeh Golan. Did you return to Kabri?
Yasmin Porat. I returned to Kabri and that’s when the chaos started there.
Aryeh Golan. In the north ?
Yasmin Porat. Yes. Now I’m a guest. I was warmly welcomed into Kibbutz Ein Harod. And I’m here, for today.
Aryeh Golan. You are in the Valley [of Jezreel] now. GOOD. Yasmin, you had a horrible experience…
Yasmin Porat. It’s true.
Aryeh Golan. You lost your partner, you saw people killed all around you…
Yasmin Porat. And I…
Aryeh Golan. [Interrupts] What happened to the terrorist who surrendered?
Yasmin Porat. He’s still under arrest, and he was just called in for questioning to help… You know, he’s going to be questioned about the defendants… And, sadly, dozens more of my friends have been killed because…
Aryeh Golan. [He interrupts again] Dozens of friends?
Yasmin Porat. Yes, because it’s a community, the rave party scene, we all go to the same ones. This means that apart from my partner, I knew dozens and hundreds [definitive cut].
Ali Abunimah and David Sheen, October 16, 2023
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