Efrat Katz likely killed by IAF helicopter fire during Oct. 7 abduction attempt — probe

Air Force investigation finds gunship fired at vehicle carrying both terrorists and hostages — with surveillance systems unable to distinguish between them — killing Katz, 68

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Efrat Katz, 68, was killed as Hamas terrorists kidnapped her from her home in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7. (Facebook)
Efrat Katz, 68, was killed as Hamas terrorists kidnapped her from her home in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7. (Facebook)

A military probe published Friday determined that Efrat Katz, 68, was likely killed by Israeli Air Force helicopter fire during the attempt by Hamas terrorists to take the Kibbutz Nir Oz resident hostage on October 7.

The findings of the probe were presented to Katz’s family.

According to the investigation, amid battles that took place in southern Israel on October 7, an IAF helicopter opened fire against a car with several terrorists in it.

It was later revealed, based on eyewitnesses, videos from the helicopter and surveillance camera footage, that the vehicle also had Israeli hostages in it.

“As a result of the shooting, most of the terrorists in the vehicle were killed, and apparently also the late Efrat Katz,” the Israel Defense Forces said.

No immediate details were given on the identity or fate of other hostages who may have been in the vehicle.

The IDF said the probe found that the military’s surveillance systems could not distinguish Israeli hostages from Hamas terrorists while in moving vehicles, and therefore the shooting was “defined as shooting at a vehicle with terrorists.”

An Israeli combat helicopter shoots flares above the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, December 21, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The chief of the IAF, Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar, said that he “did not find fault in the operation by the helicopter crew, who operated in compliance with the orders in a complex reality of war.”

Bar “emphasized that the IAF carried out an honest and transparent examination, out of a deep commitment to the bereaved family and the families of the hostages,” the military said.

“This is a tragic and unfortunate event that took place in the midst of fighting and conditions of uncertainty,” he added, according to an IDF statement.

Katz’s daughter, Doron Katz-Asher, and her two granddaughters, Raz and Aviv, were kidnapped by Hamas that day and released on November 24. Her partner, Gadi Mozes, was also kidnapped and is believed to still be held hostage. Doron’s half-brother, Ravid Katz, was killed on October 7 and his body was taken hostage.

Gadi Moses, held hostage by Hamas terrorists who abducted him during the October 7, 2023 assault on Kibbutz Nir Oz, pictured here with his late life-partner Efrat Katz who was killed that day. (Courtesy)

Efrat was originally kidnapped with them, seen in video on the back of a truck with her daughter and granddaughters being taken by Hamas from the kibbutz. After being killed, the terrorists dumped her body, which was later recovered.

She was buried on October 25 in Kibbutz Revadim. She is also survived by another daughter, Leeor Katz-Natanzon, and two additional grandchildren, Sahar and Ziv.

The publication of the probe came as the IDF was investigating the military’s failures in the lead-up to the Hamas terror group’s October 7 massacre, as well as during the onslaught itself.

Some 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists burst from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on October 7, carrying out a murderous rampage of unprecedented intensity and breadth. The IDF struggled to mount a response, with bases closest to the border overrun and the chain of command seemingly broken amid the chaos.

The onslaught claimed the lives of some 1,200 people in Israel, with another 253 people kidnapped and much of the area devastated. Most victims were civilians.

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