Israeli hostage "most likely" killed by Israeli combat helicopter on October 7, Air Force investigation finds

Efrat Katz, kidnapped by Hamas on October 7, 2023.
Efrat Katz, kidnapped by Hamas on October 7, 2023. Poitout Florian/ABACA/Shutterstock

An Israeli hostage on October 7 was likely killed by fire from an Israeli combat helicopter that was firing at a vehicle with militants, an Israeli Air Force investigation has found.

Israeli Efrat Katz was likely killed when an Israeli helicopter struck the vehicle that the 67-year-old was in together with other hostages and militants. The Israeli military fired at the vehicle without knowing that hostages were in the vehicle alongside the militants, according to the Air Force investigation. The findings were presented to Katz’s family and the families of the hostages involved in the incident Friday.

Katz was kidnapped from her home in Kibbutz Nir Oz, southern Israel by militants from Gaza. Nir Oz is roughly 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) from the Gaza border. The investigation into her death was carried out by an air force team and was based on witness testimony and video footage. It was conducted alongside “in-depth examinations of all the combat incidents” on October 7.

“As a result of the fire, most of the terrorists manning the vehicle were killed, and most likely, Efrat Katz was killed as well,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Friday. The investigation found that the Israeli hostages in the vehicle “could not be distinguished by the existing surveillance systems, and the shooting was defined as shooting at a vehicle with terrorists.”

The IDF called the incident a “tragic and unfortunate event that took place in the midst of fighting and conditions of uncertainty.” The commander of the air force “did not find fault in the operation by the helicopter crew, who operated in compliance with the orders in a complex reality of war,” the IDF added.

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