An Israeli child completely incinerated at Kibbutz Be’eri was killed by two tank shells shot by Israeli forces at the end of an hours-long gun battle, a survivor of the same carnage told the Israeli state broadcaster Kan earlier this month.
Yasmin Porat, taken captive with at least a dozen other Israeli civilians on 7 October, told Kan radio that a fellow captive, 12-year-old Liel Hatsroni, survived to the end of the battle and only died when Israeli forces fired two tank shells at the house where they were held hostage by Hamas fighters.
Hatsroni’s obliteration by Israeli tank fire emerged this month after her family decided to mourn her with a public funeral, even though the government had not officially pronounced her dead.
Although Hatsroni’s 69-year-old grandfather Aviyah and twin brother Yanai were buried two weeks after their deaths on 7 October, her 73-year-old aunt and guardian Ayala was only buried on 15 November, the day after Israel officially declared her dead.
On that day the Hatsroni family also held funeral rites for Liel, though the state still listed her as missing because “to this day they have not found any of her remains,” Yasmin Porat told Kan on 15 November.
You can listen to Porat speak in that interview in this video, with English subtitles:Three days later, the Hatsroni family was informed that archaeologists working with the Kahanist-run Israel Antiquities Authority had finally identified Liel’s remains at the house, Ynet, an Israeli news site, reported.
Although at least 50 people died in that particular bloodbath – and at least 10 of them were Israeli civilians – Porat herself left the battle intact, when one Hamas commander, out of a force that numbered about 40 fighters, surrendered.
Israeli forces called to the scene instructed the Hamas commander to come out with Porat, effectively turning her into a human shield.
“Two big booms”
In her 15 November interview on Kan’s Kalman Liberman program, Porat recounts how, of the dozen or so Israelis she was held captive with on 7 October, only one other person – Be’eri resident Hadas Dagan – survived the ordeal.
The two tank shells fired into the house at the very end of the battle killed both women’s partners, the young Liel Hatsroni and everyone else in the house who was still left alive up to then, she said.
At around 7:30 pm, after some four hours of crossfire consisting of “hundreds of thousands of bullets,” Porat peered from behind Israeli lines and observed an Israeli tank firing two shells into the small kibbutz house.
“I thought to myself, why are they shooting tank shells into the house,” Porat told Kan. “And I asked one of the people who was with me, why are they shooting? So they explained to me that it was to break the walls, in order to help purify the house.”
At the time, the captive Hadas Dagan was caught for hours in the crossfire between the two sides, lying face down on the grassy lawn. When the Israeli tank shells hit, Dagan felt their impact throughout her whole body, she told Porat after finally emerging from the combat zone in tatters.
“Yasmin, when the two big booms hit, I felt like I flew in the air,” Porat recalls a disheveled Dagan telling her minutes after the battle ended. Dagan was still covered in her husband’s blood, her hair standing on end, full of dust and styrofoam. “It took me two or three minutes to open my eyes, I didn’t feel my body. I was completely paralyzed,” Dagan told her, Porat says.
Upon regaining consciousness, Dagan realized that the captives who had been lying on either side of her – her husband Adi Dagan and Porat’s partner, Tal Katz – had just died from tank shell shrapnel. “When I opened my eyes, I saw that my Adi is dying,” Porat recalls Dagan saying. “Your Tal also stopped moving at that point.”
Though neither Porat nor Dagan witnessed the moment that fellow hostage Liel Hatsroni was incinerated by Israeli tank shells, they both immediately understood that she had died in the explosions, because after screaming for hours on end, since the beginning of the battle, she suddenly went silent.
“I remember, when I was there for the first hour, she did not stop screaming,” Porat told Kan, and noted that her recollections of Hatsroni dovetailed with what Hadas Dagan told her.
“The girl [Liel Hatsroni] did not stop screaming all those hours. She didn’t stop screaming,” Porat recalls Dagan telling her. “Yasmin, when those two shells hit, she stopped screaming. There was silence then.”
“So what do you glean from that? That after that very massive incident, the shooting, which concluded with two shells, that is pretty much when everyone died,” Porat told Kan.
Six weeks after the ordeal of 7 October, Porat concludes that Liel Hatsroni’s remains had yet to be recovered because Israeli tank shelling totally incinerated her and most of the house, finishing off many Hamas fighters and any other surviving captives.
“Part of the house is torched. The house of Hadas and Adi [Dagan] no longer exists. I don’t know how that happened,” Porat said. “If you ask me, I estimate, based on what happened in other houses, she [Liel Hatsroni] apparently burned completely.”That Israel confirmed the death of Liel’s aunt Ayala only 38 days after 7 October suggests that she, too, was likely burned beyond recognition by Israeli tank shells.
A day after Porat’s revelation on live radio that Liel Hatsroni had been torched to death by tank fire, an Israeli official confirmed that she was not nearly the only person incinerated by Israel on 7 October and in the days that immediately followed.
Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev inadvertently admitted in a 16 November MSNBC interview that some 200 bodies Israel had claimed for weeks were those of Israelis burned to death by Palestinians were now known to be the bodies of Palestinian fighters burned to death by Israel.
“We originally said, in the atrocious Hamas attack upon our people on October 7th, we had the number at 1,400 casualties and now we’ve revised that down to 1,200 because we understood that we’d overestimated, we made a mistake. There were actually bodies that were so badly burnt we thought they were ours, in the end apparently they were Hamas terrorists,” Regev told MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan.
Meanwhile, Hatsroni’s death is being used by Israeli politicians to incite and justify Israel’s vengeful slaughter of thousands of Palestinian children in Gaza.
Cracks in official narrative
After burning the bodies of some 200 Palestinian fighters, 12-year-old Israeli Liel Hatsroni, and an unknown number of other Israeli civilians, then lying to the world about who burned them and using their deaths and suffering as a pretext to destroy Gaza and annihilate more than 14,000 Palestinians there so far, Israel is finally starting to come clean about its actual contribution to the death toll on that horrific day.
Last week, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that a police investigation into the events of 7 October “indicates that an IDF [Israeli military] combat helicopter that arrived to the scene and fired at terrorists there apparently also hit some festival participants” at the Supernova rave held near the Gaza boundary that day.
Another police source criticized Haaretz and appeared to row back the statement the following day, but did not deny that Israel had killed some Israelis.
The first cracks in the official Israeli narrative about 7 October came from testimony by Yasmin Porat, a 44-year-old mother of three who fled the Supernova rave with her partner Tal Katz and found temporary shelter at Kibbutz Be’eri with local residents Adi and Hadas Dagan – until mid-afternoon. At that point, Hamas fighters captured all four and took them next door, pooling them with another group of eight or more kibbutz residents.In her initial interview with Kan on 15 October, first reported in English by The Electronic Intifada the following day, Porat revealed that at least some of the dozen-plus Israelis held hostage with her at Be’eri died as a result of Israeli gunfire.
Asked by Kan radio host Aryeh Golan if some of the Israeli casualties of that battle had died by friendly fire, Porat answered “undoubtedly.”
Porat also told Kan and other Israeli media outlets that she and the other Israelis were not mistreated while held by Hamas fighters on 7 October. “They did not abuse us. They treated us very humanely,” Porat told Kan. “They give us something to drink here and there. When they see we are nervous they calm us down. It was very frightening but no one treated us violently.”
The goal of her Hamas captors was to trade captives for Palestinian prisoners incarcerated by Israel, Porat insists.
The 40 or so Hamas fighters who held the Israelis captive for six hours intended to take Porat and the other Israelis back to Gaza – and indeed, they could easily have done so, she said.
The fighters mistakenly assumed, however, that Israeli forces caught by surprise at dawn would have already regrouped by midday and encircled their position by the afternoon. “They could have left with us back and forth 10 times,” said Porat.
There is an increasing body of evidence that either through recklessness or by design, Israeli forces were responsible for killing a not insignificant number of Israelis on and after 7 October.
Yasmin Porat has, by now, been interviewed by just about every Israeli mainstream media outlet, but it still seems as if Israel isn’t listening to her.
Porat and Hadas Dagan, the only survivors from their group of captives, affirm that two Israeli tank shells set the house they were held in on fire and killed at least three of the people in their group: both of their partners and 12-year-old Liel Hatsroni.
In announcing Hatsroni’s death last week , Ynet nevertheless concluded that Hamas fighters “murdered everyone. Afterwards, they torched the house.”
Ali Abunimah is executive director of The Electronic Intifada.
David Sheen is the author of Kahanism and American Politics: The Democratic Party’s Decades-Long Courtship of Racist Fanatics.
Transcript of Yasmin Porat interview
Source: Kan Radio
Kalman Liberman Program
Date: 15 November 2023, 9:18 AM
Yasmin Porat: We come out and suddenly there was a very tense ceasefire. All of the weapons were pointed at us. All the Hamas were pointing at me and him. He begins disrobing while walking, he removes underwear, socks and undershirt, leaving him naked as the day he was born. That’s how we start walking in front of everyone, with him naked and me in front of him as a human shield. At that time, when we pass the living room and the porch with the dining area, where we were previously, then I go out to the yard. And there I recognize my [partner] Tal, Hadas, Adi Dagan and another Tal, the son of one couple, and another elderly couple, lying on the ground, the lawn, you can’t imagine what it looked like. Just spread out there. And full of shrapnel. Endless shooting and they are lying on the lawn, like corpses, but they were all still alive, you can see it. I managed while leaving to ask my Tal, “Tal are you okay?” and he lifted his head, and he was very frightened, because they didn’t even realize that I came out, because their heads were to the ground. Everyone put their heads to the ground to protect themselves.
Kalman Liebskind (Host): You go outside with him, and where do you go?
Yasmin Porat: And we walk the length of the yard, we reach the two rocks of the terraces, we climb them like so, and then we’re standing right on the road. We’re just across the street from the YAMAM [Israeli forces] and it’s a small road, a narrow road. Lots of police aiming their guns at us. They are shouting at him on the megaphone what I imagine was, “Let her go! Let her go!” We approach them a little more, he gives me a push, I quickly run to the police, they quickly arrest him. That’s the story of how I was saved. That’s where I was saved and held by the police. I stay with them for another three hours of battle. I simply crossed to the side of the police, but I stayed on the scene at Be’eri and at that incident until 8:30 PM.
Asaf Liberman (Host): And the terrorist that released you, what did they do to him?
Yasmin Porat: They arrested him. They arrested him and interrogated him. And by the way, today I know from the people who were there with me that he gave up lots of information, they got lots and lots of information from him that, in retrospect, saved many people, which we can say is heartening.
Kalman Liebskind (Host): When you are saved, he crosses over to the side of the police, everyone you left behind, our people, are alive?
Yasmin Porat: They stay in exactly the same situation, They are all alive. You know I didn’t count. If you had about 40 terrorists, you’re still left with 40 terrorists, because only one surrendered out of the 40. So it doesn’t change the balance of power. You stay in the same situation.
Kalman Liebskind (Host): But there were about 15 of our people.
Yasmin Porat: Great. So now they’re 14 with 39 terrorists, only two people left. And it was masses of people. And then I cross over to the police. And right away I tell them that I am able to talk, and that they can interrogate me and ask me whatever they want. And I did actually sit there with the commander of the unit, and I describe to him what the house looks like and where the terrorists are and where the hostages are. I actually draw for him: “Look, here, on the lawn there are four hostages that are lying this way on the lawn. Here are two that are lying under the terrace. And in the living room there is a woman lying like this, and a woman lying like this.” And I tell them about the twins [Yanai and Liel Hatsroni] and [their guardian and aunt Ayala Hatsroni], I didn’t see them. You know what, really, when I leave, they are the only ones I don’t see. I heard Liel the whole time, so I know for certain that they were there. I believe they were to my left – never mind. I tried to explain to them that from somewhere near the kitchen is where I heard the screams coming from. I don’t see her, but I hear her, and I hear where the screams are coming from. I tried to explain to them where all the hostages were. Obviously there were more terrorists in the house than hostages. The terrorists were in the reinforced safe room, they were in the bathroom, they were spread out under the whole terrace, under a living room window that gave protection. There was a window that protected from bullets, so lots of terrorists sat under it. Let’s say they grabbed the better spots to hide.
I remain there during those three hours, they interrogate me at least three to four times to understand what the house looks like and what to do, and how many hostages there are. And you see that they just don’t understand the scale of it. The first time I tell them that there are about 40 terrorists, they tell me, “It can’t be. It seems like you’re exaggerating.” They don’t say it [disparagingly]. “Look here at us, we are forty,” I tell them. “There’s more of them than you.’ They didn’t believe me! Our army was also still naive.
Kalman Liebskind (Host): So even at that stage, the police did not grasp the magnitude of the event.
Yasmin Porat: It did not grasp the magnitude of the event. When I say 40, they think maybe I’m exaggerating a little, that I’m hysterical.
Asaf Liberman (Host): Wow.
Yasmin Porat: That’s it. And now I’m connecting you to a little bit of the testimony of Hadas Dagan. It was not a testimony, I mean that I spoke to her personally, to understand what happened to my partner. Because in the end he was killed next to her, and I wanted to understand. And then through that story I also heard the answer about Liel, more or less. In any case, I leave. Understand, everyone [else] stays there. A battle takes place. Now they know more details than me. And the battle doesn’t end. There were attempts at a negotiation. Even that terrorist that surrendered spoke on the megaphone with his friends, in order to try to maybe convince them.
Kalman Liebskind (Host): For the [Israeli] police, this time.
Yasmin Porat: Yes, for the [Israeli] police, he speaks on the megaphone in Arabic, while naked. He screams at them. It was really … you know. And they aren’t convinced.
Kalman Liebskind (Host): Can I say something here in parentheses, Yasmin? We must assume that had this large group that was with you, this group of terrorists, known how good its position was on the kibbutz – were it elsewhere on the kibbutz, this story would have ended differently, right?
Yasmin Porat: You mean if they had known…
Kalman Liebskind (Host): That they could have just taken you and kidnapped you!
Yasmin Porat: Ah yes, yes, yes.
Kalman Liebskind (Host): They don’t have to negotiate with anyone, they don’t have to call 100 for the police. Nothing!
Yasmin Porat: Look, the first … Today we see the whole kidnapping story. You see that most of the kidnappings occurred in the morning, at 10, 11, 12 o’clock. By 3 [pm], like every [Israeli] citizen could, they think that the army is already everywhere. They could have left with us back and forth 10 times. But they didn’t believe that was the situation, so they asked for the police. In any case, I’ll cut it short for you. For another three hours, I am at a very intense battle. But now I am on the side of the so-called good guys. But everyone else is under very, very heavy crossfire, with terrorists who I understood were not cooperating, and were saying, “if you don’t let us leave alive, then everyone dies.” And at a certain point, a tank arrives opposite the house. I think it was 7 or 7:30 pm. Understand, it was still daylight saving time, and it was starting to get dark. And I thought to myself, why are they shooting tank shells into the house. And I asked one of the people who was with me, why are they shooting? So they explained to me that it was to break the walls, in order to help purify the house. I will now turn for a bit to my conversation with Hadas. I know Hadas Dagan, who as I explained was one of four people lying down outside next to each other. And another two lay down under the terrace.
Kalman Liebskind (Host): I remind you that Hadas was the lady of the house [where they were originally caught by Hamas fighters].
Yasmin Porat: Yes. The lady of the house Hadas Dagan. She believes there were two booms. I know there were the two shells shot by the tank. She didn’t even know that, because again, they can’t see anything. They are flat on the ground. She told me in these words: “Yasmin, when the two big booms hit, I felt like I flew in the air.” She felt that she died and came back to life. Briefly she feels she flew in the air and landed, though I don’t think that occurred. She told me, “It took me 2-3 minutes to open my eyes, I didn’t feel my body. I was completely paralyzed. When I opened my eyes, I saw that my Adi [Dagan] is dying.” His main artery was cut and he’s bleeding all over. She tells me she put her thumb on his main artery, but he was already dead. And then she told me, “Your Tal also stopped moving at that point,” because they lay on either side of her. Today I believe that they were human shields for her, naturally. They were two big guys and she is a small woman. They lay on her sides, and they just…
Asaf Liberman (Host): Yasmin, there are two things that require clarification for a moment.
Yasmin Porat: Yeah.
Asaf Liberman (Host): At what stage, and how did all the hostages still held in the house die? And how does Hadas get out of there alive?
Yasmin Porat: Right.
Kalman Liebskind (Host): The only one. It must be said, from that whole event, only you and Hadas came out alive.
Yasmin Porat: True. Understand the whole incident – I left there at 8:30 pm. I leave [the house], at 5:30 pm I am with the police. And I stay until 8:30 pm while there is a crazy battle. Hours of battle between the two sides. They’re all there! Understand. There were 4 people lying next to each other on the lawn in the garden. So they are always there, vulnerable to hundreds of thousands of bullets and shrapnel in the air there. There is no way to avoid damage from that. To tell you in the end who died by whose bullet? There is no way to know. It was from the crossfire. To my understanding. Because Hadas got out alive. And she says there were no executions, or anything like that. At least not the people with her. Because she tells me that after she got up from the two explosions, she lifted her head, or something like that, she felt that her husband was bleeding on her. She was covered in his blood. I also met her afterwards. And she also told me that my Tal who was lying down – he stopped moving by that point. And then, as I recall, she tells me this, she tells me: “The girl [12-year-old Liel Hatsroni] did not stop screaming all those hours. She didn’t stop screaming.” So I said, “I remember, when I was there for the first hour, she did not stop screaming.” And then she told me, “Yasmin, when those two shells hit, she stopped screaming. There was silence then.” So what do you glean from that? That after that very massive incident, the shooting, which concluded with two shells, that is pretty much when everyone died. At least that is what I know from my conversation with Hadas, who describes it. And she, for some reason, maybe because she is a small woman, and all the shrapnel flew at her husband and my partner, somehow she – listen, she did not look normal when she got out. She looked – I met her in the morning, and if you would have seen how she looked in the evening, it’s not the same person. But somehow she survived it. No shrapnel hit her. She was also hit by shrapnel, but no shrapnel hit her where –
Asaf Liberman (Host): So all the terrorists were simply killed there?
Yasmin Porat: They were all killed. All the hostages and all the terrorists. A house full of bodies. Understand…
Asaf Liberman (Host): And Hadas somehow…
Yasmin Porat: Somehow, out of all that killing, it’s like God wanted her to be with us and saved her. She walks away from all that inferno. When I saw her, she was– understand, when I met her in the morning, she was dressed nicely, her hair was combed, you know, a normal person. When she walked out of there, all her hair was on end, full of dust, with styrofoam in it.
Asaf Liberman (Host): Do you understand why there was no determination that Liel died until yesterday?
Yasmin Porat: I understood that to this day they have not found any of her remains. I think that some of the explosives there, they threw grenades and – I don’t know much about ammunition. Some of it was bigger than rifle bullets. I know they catch fire – and I also see now in photographs, part of the house is torched. The house of Hadas and Adi no longer exists. I don’t know how that happened. I can’t describe what these houses look like. Okay, you see it. If you ask me, I estimate, based on what happened in other houses, she apparently burned completely. She [Liel] did not flee from there. They did not kidnap her. I’m telling you, they did not get out of there. It was no longer the stage that anyone got out of there. No. We’re talking about 8:30 pm, total darkness, the house is burned, full of – at that point there was a lot of army there. YAMAM and MATKAL and they surrounded the house. That means that Liel could not have gotten out of there. And Hadas, who was there for all four hours of the battle, recalls that she didn’t stop screaming, the girl [Liel Hatsroni]. And suddenly she stops.
Asaf Liberman (Host): Okay.
Kalman Liebskind (Host): Yasmin Porat. Yasmin, thanks a lot for the–
Yasmin Porat: Thanks to you.
Kalman Liebskind (Host): -for sharing with us this really crazy story.
Yasmin Porat: [Sighs]. Yes. Thank you, and may we only know better days.
Kalman Liebskind (Host): Only better days.
Asaf Liberman (Host): Thank you Yasmin. Thank you very much.