Photo Credit: IDF
Brigadier General Barak Hiram

The commander of the 143rd “Gaza” Division, Brigadier General Avi Rosenfeld, on Sunday announced his intention to end his service in the IDF. He will terminate his duties in the near future. His replacement is Brigadier General Barak Hiram, but the latter’s appointment is frozen until the end of an investigation of an incident in Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7 in which Hiram ordered a tank crew to shoot at a house where 12 hostages were being held by Hamas terrorists.

In a letter Brig. Gen. Rosenfeld sent the heads of municipalities in the Gaza Envelope, he wrote: “On the morning of Simchat Torah, a war broke out by surprise, without warning. For many hours we were unable to protect the settlements, the tens of thousands of residents, the thousands celebrating at the party in the Re’im parking lot, and the forces in the military outposts against the thousands of terrorists who invaded our territory through dozens of routes in an all-out attack by the Hamas terrorist army.”


“We must do everything to return all the hostages to their homes and the missing to Jewish graves. This is a military mission, but more importantly, it is a moral duty. We will always stand by the bereaved families and accompany the wounded in body and soul,” Rosenfeld added.

He concluded: “Everyone must take responsibility for their part and I am the one in charge of the 143rd Division. Taking my responsibility as commander I decided to end my position as division commander and my service in the IDF after 30 years of service. I informed my superiors about it. I will remain here until my replacement enters his position in an orderly manner in accordance with the instructions of my commanders.”

And there, at the point of an orderly succession, the dog is buried, as the Jewish adage says. Because while Brig. Gen. Rosenfeld was paralyzed and failed to carry out his mission on October 7, his intended successor, Brig. Gen. Barak Hiram was as active and effective as could be imagined, and for that, his career has been put on hold.


Joel Brand, who in 1944 tried to negotiate the deal of truck for Hungarian Jews with Adolf Eichman (the deal failed), once said that those who went to battle and die will receive the highest honors; those who went to battle and didn’t die will go up on charges; and those who didn’t go to battle will be their judges.

Destruction at kibbutz Be’eri after the October 7 attack. / Moshe Shai/FLASH90

On Saturday, October 7, 2023, with the start of the surprise attack on Israel, Hiram went to the Southern Command and from there on to fight terrorists in Netivot. He ordered the entire division to report to Beit Kama, and with a small force he arrived in Netivot and took command of the fighting in the settlements of Saad, Be’eri, Alumim, and Re’im. He took in forces from several units who showed up eager to fight, including Sayweret Matkal, the Sheldag special force, and the commando brigade, which he directed to fight in the various settlements. At 11 AM, when most of the IDF was either stunned into paralysis or dead, Hiram arrived with his team at Alumim, where the standby squad managed to protect the settlement, and the force under his command killed three terrorists.

At 4 PM he arrived at Kibbutz Be’eri, where he took command of fighters from various units who had fought a long battle with many casualties against hordes of terrorists on the kibbutz grounds. 31 fighters were killed: five members of the kibbutz’s standby squad, 19 IDF soldiers, and seven police officers.

On October 6, 2023, the night of Simchat Torah, Pessi Cohen, 68, hosted her sister, Hana, her husband Yitzhak Seton, and their son Tal Seton, who stayed overnight in her home in Be’eri. The next day, at 6:29 AM, the surprise Hamas attack began. When red alerts were sounded on the morning of October 7, Pessi and her guests entered the bomb shelter. At 12:56 PM the terrorists broke into the house. They murdered Yitzhak Seton and wounded Tal Seton.

The terrorists dragged to Pessi Cohen’s house her neighbors from the nearby homes around 3 PM. There were 14 living hostages and the dead Itzik Seton in the house. The terrorists sat the hostages around the dining table. At this time, the police and the IDF had not yet arrived, but the terrorists thought they were surrounded by security forces. The terrorist commander asked hostage Yasmin Porat, through another hostage who interpreted, if she knew people in the police. She replied in the affirmative and he asked her to call and tell the police there were 50 hostages, in the dining room. He spoke to the police on the phone and demanded that they be allowed to take the hostages to the Gaza Strip without the army harming them, otherwise they would execute the hostages one by one.

An argument ensued between the commander of the Police special force, who hoped that more terrorists would surrender, and the commander of the 99th division, Brigadier General Barak Hiram, who wanted to end the incident before nightfall. As one of Hiram’s officers explained, “The fear was that under the cover of darkness, the terrorists would manage to get out of the house and kill more civilians.”

This firefight continued until eventually, Hiram commanded a tank commander, “Break in, even at the cost of civilian casualties.” The tank fired a shell at the roof of the house and another shell at the foundation of the house. Hadas Dagan, the only hostage who survived the attack (besides Yasmin Porat who was released earlier), testified that the shelling resulted in the death of the terrorists and all the hostages including her husband. However, an investigation of the Armored Corps and a civilian investigation of the Israel Antiquities Authority concluded that the hostages were killed by small arms fire with 7.62 bullets and not by the tank shell firing on the roof of the house. In other words, the terrorists executed the hostages.


The investigation of the details of the incident has not been completed and the IDF’s conclusions have not yet been published, and so, Brigadier General Barak Hiram and the Gaza Division remain in Limbo.

We at the Jewish Press are eager to see Hiram move up in the IDF ranks not only because he is an astonishing fighter who made himself extremely useful when the folks who are today sitting on his appointment did nothing (Only on Sunday, did the commander of the Southern Command, Major General Yaron Finkelman, finally join the battle that continued until Monday at noon, October 9). But we are also beside ourselves with anticipation because the man is national religious and lives in the settlement of Tekoa. His move up the rank will mark a major crack in the glass ceiling of the IDF brass’ secular boys club.

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