IDF Chief of Staff visits Nir Oz for 1st time since October 7, apologizes for IDF missteps

Herzi Halevi met grieving members of the ravaged community which lost  25% of its inhabitants to Hamas' ruthless attack while residents remained helpless without IDF assistance; Halevi took personal responsibility for the failure

For the first time since the harrowing events of October 7, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi visited Kibbutz Nir Oz on Wednesday morning to meet with locals and bereaved families. Nir Oz has become a stark symbol of neglect during the surprise attack. Not a single shot was fired by the IDF in Nir Oz on October 7, and the residents were left defenseless, which resulted in murders and kidnappings that left a quarter of the kibbutz's population was either taken hostage or killed.
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הרמטכ״ל הרצי הלוי עם לוחמי גדוד ׳נצח יהודה׳ בגבול עזה
הרמטכ״ל הרצי הלוי עם לוחמי גדוד ׳נצח יהודה׳ בגבול עזה
IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Halevi arrived for a closed meeting, accompanied by other senior officers. As he has done in the past, the chief of staff took personal responsibility for the IDF failures on that day, and he extended heartfelt apologies to the residents who had been abandoned. During the conversation, the residents expressed their grievances to Halevi. After the meeting, Halevi toured the kibbutz, walking among the burned houses and witnessing the devastation firsthand.
On October 7, in the absence of the army, about 130 terrorists from Hamas' Nukhba Force and Islamic Jihad initially infiltrated Nir Oz, later joined by numerous looters who also participated in the murders and kidnappings. A comprehensive investigation revealed that it was only around 1:30 p.m., after roughly seven hours of massacre, kidnappings, looting and destruction, that the first security forces entered Kibbutz Nir Oz. By then, the damage was irreparable.
Before that fateful day, Kibbutz Nir Oz had approximately 400 members. Nearly 40 were murdered, about 70 were kidnapped to Gaza, and more than half of the kidnapped were eventually returned to Israel, most as part of the hostage deal in November.
Earlier this month, the IDF spokesperson announced, nearly eight months after the October 7 massacre, that the body of Dolev Yehud, age 35 at the time of his death, had been found and identified in Kibbutz Nir Oz. For many long months, Dolev was classified as kidnapped, but it was revealed he was murdered during the massacre, and his body remained in the area of the kibbutz. His sister, Arbel Yehud, was also kidnapped in the Hamas terror attack and remains captive in Gaza.
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חאבייר חררדו מיליי נשיא ארגנטינה ויצחק הרצוג נשיא המדינה בביקור בקיבוץ ניר עוז
חאבייר חררדו מיליי נשיא ארגנטינה ויצחק הרצוג נשיא המדינה בביקור בקיבוץ ניר עוז
Argentinean President Milei during his visit to Nir Oz
(Photo: Tomer Shunam Halevi)
The chief of staff's visit comes in the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement Tuesday that he intends to meet with the bereaved families whose relatives were kidnapped and murdered. The Nir Oz community issued a statement in response: "The families of the kibbutz call on the prime minister to come and meet with all the families of Nir Oz's kidnapped and murdered, those who are held alive and those who were murdered in captivity and in the kibbutz."
"Alongside the meetings, we once again call on the Prime Minister to visit the massacre site for the first time since October 7, to hear the kibbutz community, and to see with his own eyes the extent of the massacre and the abandonment that the community experienced due to the complete lack of external protection."
"From this abandonment, we can begin to recover as a kibbutz and as a nation only after the return of our loved ones from captivity, both the living and the murdered. The Nir Oz community calls on the Prime Minister to demonstrate his commitment with this visit, to act for the return of the hostages, to the rehabilitation of the western Negev and its communities, and to the restoration of trust between the people and the leadership," the statement concluded.
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