IDF helicopter fired at Israeli civilians fleeing music festival during Hamas’ Oct 7 attack: report

Published November 20, 2023
The personal belongings of festival-goers in southern Israel, on October 12. — Reuters
The personal belongings of festival-goers in southern Israel, on October 12. — Reuters

A report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has said that an IDF combat helicopter that engaged Hamas fighters at the Nova music festival near the Kibbutz Re’im during the Oct 7 attack hit festival participants as well.

The report, dated Nov 18, cited an assessment based on an investigation by the police with detained Hamas fighters from that day, which also discovered that Hamas fighters did not have advance knowledge about the music festival and “decided to target the party spontaneously”.

The story does not specify the condition of the Israeli festivalgoers that were hit with the helicopter fire.

An aerial view shows the burnt cars of festival-goers in southern Israel, October 12. — Reuters
An aerial view shows the burnt cars of festival-goers in southern Israel, October 12. — Reuters

Separately, an Anadolu Agency report carried excerpts from Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, which mentioned the challenges faced by Israeli forces who “found it difficult to identify Hamas militants”, adding that the pilots “used artillery” against civilians at the festival.

The report also said that Hamas fighters were instructed to blend in with the crowd to deceive the air force into mistaking them for Israelis.

“In this way, they tried to fool the Air Force into believing that those below were Israelis. This deception worked for a while until the Apache helicopters had to break free of all restraints,” the report added.

“When they realised that, some of them decided to use artillery shells against the terrorists independently, without getting permission from their superiors.”

The police also estimated that 364 people were killed in the festival without revealing their identities.

Meanwhile, the Times of Israel carried a statement from the Israeli police, which distanced itself from Haaretz’s report.

“The Haaretz article in Hebrew cites an unnamed Israel Police official saying that its investigation of the incident found that an IDF helicopter at the site that was firing at terrorists ‘apparently harmed a few partygoers who were in the area’.”

It quoted the police as saying its investigation “focused only and solely on police activity, and not any IDF activity, and therefore did not provide “any indication about the harm of civilians due to aerial activity there”.

It then called on local news outlets to “take responsibility for their publications and only base stories on official sources”. “Elements of the Haaretz article were taken widely out of context on social media and used to blame Israel for hundreds of civilian deaths on Oct 7, none of which has any basis in fact and in extensive reporting about the massacre,” it added.

Opinion

Editorial

Budget and politics
Updated 14 Jun, 2024

Budget and politics

PML-N, scared of taking bold steps lest it loses whatever little public support it has, has left its traditional support — traders — virtually untouched.
New talks?
14 Jun, 2024

New talks?

WILL this prove another false start, or may we expect a more sincere effort this time? Reference is made to the...
A non-starter
14 Jun, 2024

A non-starter

WHILE the UN Security Council had earlier this week adopted a US-backed resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza...
Budget for stabilisation
Updated 13 Jun, 2024

Budget for stabilisation

The proposed steps lack any “disruptive policy changes", especially to "right-size" the govt, and doubts remain on authorities' ability to enforce new measures.
State of the economy
13 Jun, 2024

State of the economy

THE current fiscal year is but another year lost. Going by the new Pakistan Economic Survey, which maps the state of...
Unyielding onslaught
Updated 13 Jun, 2024

Unyielding onslaught

SEVEN soldiers paid the ultimate price in Lakki Marwat on Sunday when their vehicle was blown up in an IED attack,...