Does a video show an Israeli army commander on October 14, 2023, stating that the Israel Defense Forces trapped and burned Israeli civilians in a house? No, that's not true: A Defense Forces spokesperson told Lead Stories that "The clip in question is part of a broader briefing on Hamas' massacre of Israeli civilians." The deceptively edited social media clip conflates talk about the deaths of Israeli civilians with Israeli tank attacks on Hamas militants in the same community on October 7, 2023, the day the conflict started and after the civilians had been killed by Hamas.
Israeli Army Commander admits they handcuffed 2 couples inside a house then used tanks to destroy the building.
15 civilians were burned to death including 8 babies...🇮🇱🇵🇸
This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:
(Source: X screenshot taken on Mon Dec 11 17:24:39 2023 UTC)
The 37-second video on social media shows Lt. Col. Golan Vach, head of the military search and rescue service, during a press briefing in Holit Kibbutz on October 14, 2023, a week after the Hamas attack on Israel. Here's a transcript of the clip, where Vach talks about the deaths of 19 people:
Vach: Two couples, two men, two women handcuffed. Inside this house were another 15 burnt people, among them eight babies. They were concentrated them and they killed them, and they burned them.
[jump cut, Vach continues]
Our tanks attacked.
Reporter: Fired on them?
Vach: Yeah. Yeah. Because they were blocked in these houses, and we need to conquer back the whole settlement. It couldn't be happened without the tanks.
A longer version of the press briefing appears on the Anadolu Agency (AA) website (archived here). AA is a news agency run by the Turkish government. The three-minute clip provides additional context. The first minute of the longer video is where the edited clip comes from:
Reporter: This place where you found the couples?
Vach: Where you stand exactly were lying two couples -- two men, two women -- handcuffed. Inside this house were another 15 burnt people, among them eight babies. ... They were concentrated them and they killed them, and they burned them.
Reporter: Did you see?
Vach: I evacuated them.
Reporter: But why is the destruction then? I'm sorry. Why is the destruction? It looks a, more like a ...
Vach: This destruction was because of our tanks attacked.
Reporter: Fired on them?
Vach: Yeah. Because they were blocked in these houses, and we need to conquer back the whole settlement. It couldn't be happened without the tanks.
The edited version of the video on social media omits three questions by the reporter and edits the response by the Israeli official, muddying its meaning.
Israel Defense Forces
In a December 12, 2023, email to Lead Stories, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson's unit said the video was not an admission of Israeli forces killing and burning its citizens. The spokesperson added:
The Clip in question is part of a broader briefing on Hamas' massacre of Israeli civilians, and has in some cases been taken out of context in an attempt to clear Hamas of responsibility from its deliberate and well documented massacre of Israeli communities. As to your question, the killing and the burning of Israeli civilians was done by Hamas.
The IDF estimates that 1,200 people were killed in the Hamas attack, NBC reported. Around 140 people are still believed to be held captive in Gaza.
Israeli Government Press Office
In another December 12, 2023, email, Ron Paz, director of the Foreign Press Department of the Government Press Office, said, "Hamas did the killing." Paz added:
This is just another sick example of how Israelis cannot be seen as victims, and Palestinians cannot be held accountable for their actions. Once the facts don't match the desired narrative, 'fake' steps in.
As mentioned there, the video is edited in the middle to make it seem like the Israeli officer 'admitted' that an Israeli tank killed Israeli hostages. In reality, he is saying that these were the actions of Hamas.
Other Lead Stories fact checks about the 2023 Hamas-Israel war can be found here.