Yasmin Porat, a 44-year-old Israeli mother of three, said that after fleeing the ‘Nova’ rave during the attack by Palestinian fighters from the Gaza strip, she and other civilians had been held by the fighters for several hours. They treated her humanely, she said during an interview on the radio programme Haboker Hazeh (‘This morning’), hosted by Aryeh Golan on Kan, an Israeli state broadcaster.
A recording of the interview had been circulating on social media. It has since been censored, perhaps due to its explosive nature, and is no longer available on the online version of Haboker Hazeh for 15 October. You can find it here.
Yasmin’s Porat’s account undermines Israel’s official story of deliberate, wanton murder by Palestinian fighters. There is little doubt about the recording’s authenticity as at least one Hebrew-language account posted part of the interview on X (aka Twitter) and accused Kan of functioning as ‘media in the service of Hamas’.
Not only does Ms Porat tell Kan that Israelis were killed in the heavy counterattack by Israeli security forces — Ms Porat herself received a bullet in the thigh after Israeli forces arrived — but she says she and other captive civilians were well treated by the Palestinian fighters.
Porat had been attending the ‘Nova’ rave when the Hamas assault began with missiles and motorized paragliders. She and her partner Tal Katz escaped by car to nearby Kibbutz Be’eri where many of the events she describes in her media interviews took place.
According to Porat she and Katz initially sought refuge in the house of a couple called Adi and Hadas Dagan. After the Palestinian fighters found them they were all taken to another house, where eight people were already being held captive and one person was dead.
Porat said that the wife of the dead man told us that when they [the Hamas fighters] tried to enter, the guy tried to prevent them from entering and grabbed the door. ‘They shot at the door and he was killed. They did not execute him.’
‘They did not abuse us. They treated us very humanely,’ Porat explained to a surprised Golan in the Kan radio interview.
In the Channel 12 interview, Porat elaborates that although the Palestinian fighters all had loaded weapons, she never saw them shoot captives or threaten them with their guns.
About eight hours after the start of the Hamas attack and about half an hour after Porat’s calls to the police, Israeli forces arrived and chaos ensued, Porat told Kan.
‘At first there was no [Israeli] security force with us,’ Porat recalled, noting that her first call to the Israeli police went unanswered. ‘We were the ones who called the police, together with the abductors because the abductors wanted the police to arrive. Because their objective was to kidnap us to Gaza.’
‘They understand that soldiers will not kill hostages. So they want to come out with us alive and for the police to permit it,’ Porat told Channel 12.
The Hamas fighters numbered between 40 and 50 men mostly in their 20s, by Porat’s estimate. They were mostly young and scared, she told Channel 12.
A fighter Porat described as a commander in his 30s asked to speak to the police and was put on with an Arabic-speaking Israeli officer.
After their brief conversation, the four dozen or so Palestinian fighters and their dozen Israeli prisoners awaited the arrival of the army, with some of the group spilling outside to the garden for relief from the afternoon heat.
Israeli forces announced their arrival with a hail of gunfire, catching the fighters and their Israeli captives by surprise. ‘We were outside and suddenly there was a volley of bullets at us from the [Israeli unit] YAMAM. We all started running to find cover’, Porat told Channel 12.
Porat said that one of the Palestinian fighters, a commander, decided to surrender and used her in effect as a human shield. ‘He calls to me and he starts to leave the house with me, under fire. At that time I yell to the [Israeli commandos] … when they can hear me, to stop firing.’
‘I see people from the kibbutz on the lawn. There are five or six hostages lying on the ground outside. Just like sheep to the slaughter, between the shooting of our commandos and the terrorists.”
‘The terrorists shot them?’ Golan asks.
‘No, they were killed by the crossfire,’ Porat responds.
Golan presses: ‘So our forces may have shot them?’
‘Undoubtedly,’ the former captive responds, and adds, ‘They eliminated everyone, including the hostages because there was very, very heavy crossfire.’
‘After insane crossfire, two tank shells were shot into the house. It’s a small kibbutz house, nothing big,’ Porat explains.
Porat and the man who took her captive both survived. The Palestinian was taken prisoner by Israeli forces. But according to Porat, almost everyone else in the settlement was killed, wounded or missing, believed to have been taken to Gaza.
Porat told Kan she lost dozens of friends who had been at the rave – people she would regularly see at parties in Israel’s trance scene. ‘I’m angry at the state, I’m angry at the army,’ Porat said. ‘For 10 hours the kibbutz was abandoned.’
The joint American-Israeli effort to paint Hamas as worse than ISIS in order to justify Israel’s unfolding genocide against the civilian population in Gaza depends on the international public not seeing or hearing accounts like Porat’s.
Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas military commander, has directly addressed Israel’s claims that his fighters set out to deliberately kill as many civilians as possible. The Israeli propaganda campaign has included lurid tales of atrocities – for which no evidence has been produced whatsoever – that Palestinians beheaded dozens of Israeli babies and that women were raped.
Al-Arouri said in an interview with Al Jazeera on Thursday that fighters of his organization’s military force, the Qassam Brigades, were under strict protocol to not harm civilians.
But al-Arouri said that after Israel’s Gaza division – the army unit that surrounds the Gaza Strip – collapsed much more quickly than expected, people in Gaza rushed to the boundary area after learning it had been opened, causing chaos. He said this may have included other armed persons who were not part of Qassam.
Al-Arouri said that this caused Qassam fighters to engage with soldiers, settlement guards and armed residents, which led to civilian deaths.
Al-Arouri also invoked the possibility Israel used the so-called Hannibal Directive – a protocol that allows Israeli forces to use overwhelming force to kill one of their own captured soldiers rather than allow them to be taken prisoner. The rationale for the Hannibal Directive is to avoid allowing an enemy to have captives that can be used in prisoner exchange negotiations.
However, in this case, if the directive was implemented by Israeli forces, it would have been used against Israeli civilians. Al-Arouri told Al Jazeera, ‘We are certain that young men [fighters] were bombed along with the prisoners who were with them.’
Porat’s account, among others, underscores the need for an independent investigation, one which Israel is unlikely ever to permit. The current propaganda narrative is simply too valuable to the genocidaires in Tel Aviv.