Fact Check: Ex-Israel Defense Forces Commander Gershon HaCohen Did NOT Die In Ambush

Fact Check

  • by: Rebaz Majeed
Fact Check: Ex-Israel Defense Forces Commander Gershon HaCohen Did NOT Die In Ambush Retired

Did Gershon HaCohen die in an ambush during the Hamas-Israel conflict that began on October 7, 2023, and was he the commander of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operations on the Western Front in Gaza at the time? No, that's not true: HaCohen retired from the IDF in 2014 and is currently not serving in the army.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on TikTok by @alialmaliki505 on December 4, 2023. The overlay text (translated from Arabic to English by Lead Stories staff) said:

Breaking and Earth-shattering News: A news shattered Israel🔥🔥🔥 Gershon HaCohen, the IDF's Commander of Operation on the Western Front in Gaza Strip was killed, following the bombing of a house in which he had taken refuge to rest with a group of his soldiers. They were caught in a precise ambush and were killed.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-12-19 at 23.23.41.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Dec 19 22:22:29 2023 UTC)

Following IDF's ground offensive in the Gaza Strip in October 2023, the claim was widely shared here, here and here.

Lead Stories conducted a Google search (archived here) on December 19, 2023, using the phrase "Gershon HaCohen." Search results showed HaCohen had retired from the IDF in 2014 and is no longer an active member of the army. A report (archived here) by The Times of Israel published on September 7, 2014, titled "An IDF general retires, an era ends," said:

After 41 years in uniform, Major-General Gershon HaCohen was thrown a small goodbye party by the IDF's top officers.

The IDF had announced his retirement of HaCohen in a press release on April 24, 2014.

On December 19, 2023, Lead Stories conducted a Google News search (archived here) for the last 12 months, using the phrase "Gershon HaCohen killed." No credible results suggested he had been killed.

The above Google search using the phrase "Gershon HaCohen" led to a tweet (archived here) on X, formerly Twitter, published by IsraelRadar_com on December 19, 2023, that said:

Israel's enemies created new military doctrine to counter IDF power, says ex-general Gershon Hacohen via @MakorRishon

An additional Google search (archived here) using the Hebrew keywords "גרשון הכהן מקור ראשון" (corresponding to "Gershon," "HaCohen," and "Makor Rishon") on December 19, 2023, led to an opinion piece (archived here) HaCohen wrote that the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon published on December 19, 2023.

The piece, titled in Hebrew and translated by Google, says: "The IDF has not weakened - the enemies have changed, developed creatively, and become very strong."

This is what the opinion piece looked like at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-12-21 at 10.42.25.png

(Source: Makor Rishon screenshot taken on Thu Dec 21 09:42:25 2023 UTC)

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  Rebaz Majeed

Rebaz Majeed is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. He is a multilingual freelance journalist and researcher. He worked for five years as a reporter for Voice of America (VOANews) in Iraq. Currently, he is pursuing his MA in Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East at Free Berlin University. Rebaz brings extensive knowledge and expertise to his role at LeadStories.

Read more about or contact Rebaz Majeed

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