‘Their voice’: New forum of slain surveillance soldiers’ families demands Oct. 7 probe

Group joins calls to form state commission of inquiry, says resignations ‘will not absolve’ those who failed to prevent massacre of female troops at Nahal Oz base

Illustrative: An Israeli soldier operates surveillance cameras in an undated photo. (Israel Defense Forces)
Illustrative: An Israeli soldier operates surveillance cameras in an undated photo. (Israel Defense Forces)

Families of IDF surveillance soldiers killed on the Nahal Oz military base during the October 7 Hamas assault on Israel announced on Wednesday the establishment of a forum to expose the military failures that led to their children’s deaths.

In a statement to the press, the forum, which has named itself “Their Voice – The Surveillance Soldier Families Forum,” pledged to fight for the establishment of a state commission of inquiry into the failures that led to the largest terror attack in Israel’s history.

The attack saw thousands of Hamas-led terrorists storm southern Israel, killing nearly 1,200 people and taking over 250 hostages.

The forum said it is demanding “that the neglect at the Nahal Oz outpost, which led to [the surveillance soldiers’] deaths, be specifically investigated by the commission of inquiry that will be established,” and warned that the families “will not agree for resignations to absolve those responsible.”

Sixty-six soldiers were killed in the Nahal Oz base, near the Gaza Strip’s northern border with Israel, of whom 15 were female surveillance soldiers. A further seven surveillance soldiers were taken hostage, one of whom, Cpl. Ori Megidish, was rescued in the early days of the war and has since returned to active service, Another, Cpl. Noa Marciano, was pronounced dead in November.

The Hostage and Missing Families Forum in May published Hamas footage of the abduction of the five surveillance soldiers still being held hostage: Karina Ariev, Agam Berger, Naama Levy, Daniella Gilboa and Liri Albag. The group said the video was a “damning testament to the nation’s failure to bring home the hostages.”

The government has so far resisted the establishment of a state commission of inquiry into the failures of October 7, saying a serious investigation should wait until after the war.

A still from footage showing the capture and abduction of Liri Albag, Karina Ariev, Agam Berger, Daniela Gilboa and Naama Levy at the Nahal Oz base on October 7, 2023. (The Hostages Families Forum)

The IDF has, however, begun its own internal probes into its failures.

The army’s treatment of surveillance soldiers, the vast majority of whom are women, has been heavily criticized since the war began.

In November, a month after Hamas’s shock assault, the Haaretz daily published a report based on interviews with several surveillance soldiers, who said their male superiors repeatedly dismissed warnings that the terror group was preparing a large-scale attack.

The army has also been accused of failing to provide for the surveillance soldiers’ security. On Monday, Hebrew media reported that parents of surveillance soldiers now serving near the Lebanese border had threatened to petition the High Court to demand that the troops be moved to a safer location.

Since October 7, the army has seen mass refusals to serve among young Israelis drafted as surveillance soldiers. In the latest draft, in April, 126 of 326 draftees slated to become surveillance soldiers refused to serve in the position, according to the Ynet news site.

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