TEL AVIV: 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.
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.