We continue our conversation with the renowned Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, who says there are growing questions about the IDF’s response to the October 7 Hamas attack that cannot wait until the end of fighting in Gaza. That includes intelligence failures in the lead-up to the attack, as well as reports of troops killing Israeli civilians when they opened fire on homes taken over by Hamas militants. “The fact is that those people were killed and might have been rescued. It must be investigated,” says Levy.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about your paper, Haaretz, reporting that a group of family members of Israelis who were killed in Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7th in the Hamas attack on Israel are demanding a probe into how their relatives died. An Israeli brigadier general recently admitted he ordered an Israeli tank commander to fire on a home where Hamas fighters were holding 15 Israeli hostages. Brigadier General Barak Hiram told The New York Times he had ordered the tank commander to, quote, “break in, even at the cost of civilian casualties.” Thirteen of the Israeli hostages died; only two survived. Gideon, you’re a member of the Haaretz editorial board, which recently ran a piece headlined “The IDF Must Investigate the Kibbutz Be’eri Tank Fire Incident — Right Now.” Elaborate on what happened and the investigation your editorial board is calling for now.
GIDEON LEVY: Look, everyone is postponing all the investigation to the day after, and the day after seems to get farer and farer. And we are very concerned that it will never be investigated. But here we have a very concrete case. And families, rightly so, want to know who is responsible for the killing of their beloved ones and how did it happen.
The brigadier general that you just mentioned happened to be a settler. I don’t want to say that it says a lot, but let’s remember that many of our high-rank generals, or more and more of them, are settlers. And settlers have their own ideology. Even when they serve in the army, they have their motivation, which is not always a very secular motivation. It’s not always the motivation of the others.
But in any case, the fact is that those people were killed and might have been rescued. It must be investigated. It’s not very complicated to investigate it. It’s a very concrete and focused event. And we were calling the army to do so. I don’t know. Until now, we didn’t hear from the army. I hope they will do it, because this can have also a lot of consequences in the coming days or weeks or months in Gaza, because this situation might repeat itself. When we will face a house where there are hostages and commanders of Hamas, do we shoot them all dead? I really wonder.
AMY GOODMAN: And you also had a piece on how sexism ultimately killed what are known as the spotters. The Israeli military, the women, who were on the border, who were seeing Hamas gear up, were telling their supervisors it looks like there’s about to be an imminent attack. And some were even told if they’d raise this again, they would be brought up on charges of insubordination. Is that right, Gideon?
GIDEON LEVY: Yeah, we had a big story on this. But, you know, the small stories might overwhelm or overshadow the big story, because the big story, finally, there are two huge question marks. A, what happened on the 7th, and how did it happen? Because all those stories get to one conclusion: that there was no army on this day. There was not — the most sophisticated intelligence in the world, with all the most sophisticated devices, who knows the color of the underwears of each Palestinian, all of a sudden didn’t know anything, after all the money in which was invested there and all the reputation they have. And then came the second question: Where was the army after the attack started? No army whatsoever.
And above all, the question which bothers me more than anything else, and that’s namely, having said what happened on the 7th, as barbaric as it was, whatever it was, there are question marks about certain events on the 7th, but it’s very clear that there was an attack, a very aggressive attack: Does this give us Israelis the right to do anything we want after the 7th forever, without any limits, no legal limits, no moral limits? We can just go and kill and destroy and destruct as much as we wish? That’s the main question right now. The event that you mentioned with those soldiers girls just show how unprepared and unprofessional was the intelligence in the army.
AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, most of those young women died. Last question, your biggest piece, “If It Isn’t a Genocide in Gaza” —
GIDEON LEVY: Only two survived. Only two survived, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Only two. “If It Isn’t a Genocide in Gaza” —
GIDEON LEVY: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: — “Then What Is It?” We just have 30 seconds, Gideon.
GIDEON LEVY: Listen, the Israelis don’t seem to care that so many innocent Palestinians were killed. They just care how to label it, if it’s genocide or not. And I say it doesn’t matter what is the legal definition. Twenty-four thousand people, most of them innocent people, 60, 70% of them women and children, 10,000 children among them, this is enough of a fact that nobody can deny, by the way, to ask ourselves: Do we really have the right to do it? What does it tell about us, about our moral standards? And, above all, how long will we go on, and where are we aiming to? Another 25,000 killed people in Gaza will guarantee more security to Israel? And even if yes, do we have the right to do so?
AMY GOODMAN: Gideon Levy, Israeli journalist, author, columnist for the newspaper Haaretz, also a member of the Haaretz editorial board. We’ll link to your piece, “If It Isn’t a Genocide in Gaza, Then What Is It?”
Next up, from Iraq to Lebanon to Pakistan to the Red Sea, will Israel’s war on Gaza escalate into a full-blown regional conflict? Back in 20 seconds.