Former Israeli Captive Held In Gaza Says Biggest Fear Was Israeli Airstrikes

In a candid interview with Haaretz, a former Israeli soldier reveals his greatest fear in captivity – and it’s not what you’d expect.

In an interview with Israel’s Haaretz, a former Israeli soldier who was held captive in the Gaza Strip said his biggest fear of being killed was from Israeli airstrikes, not Palestinian fighters.

In the interview, 70-year-old Louis Har, an Israeli who was held captive in the Gaza Strip, recounted his “biggest fear was the IDF planes and the fear that they would bomb the building we were in. It is clear that this is war, and the IDF is working. I was a soldier myself. But the feeling that it could be our bombs, our planes—that is what will make us die—is very scary and very stressful.”

The exclusive interview, published in Hebrew and not yet released on Haaretz’s English-language website, offers a glimpse into the reality of Israelis held as prisoners of war in Gaza.  Har also states in the interview that he was not fearful that Gazan fighters would kill him, as he realized he was a valuable bargaining chip in any potential prisoner swaps.

Har was extracted from Gaza as part of the only hostage rescue operation conducted by the Israeli military since October 7. Israeli media produced a dramatic story depicting a daring and violent collaborative interagency mission involving Shin Bet and special forces to retrieve Har and his fellow captive, Fernando Marman.

However, discrepancies in the narratives led to questions about the role of the alleged Palestinian fighters guarding them. These were clarified when al-Mayadeen News reported that a civilian family had been holding the two Israelis captive and had attempted to negotiate their release.

The Haaretz interview with Har highlights the fear Israeli captives in Gaza experience when hearing Israeli fighter jets overhead. This sentiment is commonly expressed by Israelis taken captive by Palestinian fighters throughout the war.

Despite strict censorship in Israeli media on these matters, many former captives have spoken about the reality of their detention since the war began.

An example of this fear was highlighted in the testimony of Yasmin Porat, a survivor of the October 7 Hamas-led offensive on Kibbutz Be’eri.

During an interview on an Israeli radio show hosted by the Kan state broadcaster, she shared that Israeli forces “eliminated everyone, including the hostages.” She described “very, very heavy crossfire” and noted hearing tank shelling.

An Al-Jazeera investigation into the events of that day also revealed that indiscriminate airstrikes and tank fire from the Israeli military killed fellow Israelis being held by Hamas.

In January, Hamas’ armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, published a video showing captured Israeli Yarden Bibas, discussing the apparent killing of his wife and two children in an airstrike. Hamas had previously claimed in a communique that an Israeli missile attack had killed them. “Will I live to attend their funeral? Or will I be buried with them?” Bibas is filmed asking.

According to Hamas, more than 50 Israeli captives held in Gaza have allegedly been killed by Israel’s own indiscriminate bombing attacks, placing tremendous pressure on Tel Aviv to conclude a prisoner exchange.

Feature photo | A picture of rescued hostage Louis Har and a sign that reads “a deal now” hangs on a wall in Tel Aviv, Feb. 12, 2024. Ariel Schalit | AP

Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and hosts the show ‘Palestine Files’. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe.’ Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47