The Israel Defense Forces acknowledged on Friday that it mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages in Gaza, having misidentified them as a threat. An IDF official reported that the hostages, who were shirtless and holding a white flag, were shot in the incident.
The killing adds more grief to the Israeli people who took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest o we the hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza.
In his first remarks after Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) killed three Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip yesterday, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi has claimed responsibility, saying “we will do everything to prevent the recurrence of such cases in the continuation of the fighting.”
“The three hostages who survived seventy hellish days, moved towards the IDF soldiers, and were killed by our forces’ fire.
“The incident in which IDF soldiers mistakenly killed Yotam Haim, Alon Shamriz and Samar Talalka, may their memory be blessed, is a difficult and painful event,” Halevi says in a video statement.
“There is nothing that the IDF soldiers and their commanders in the Gaza Strip want more than to rescue hostages alive,” he says
“We did not succeed in this case. We feel the deep sorrow of the families for the deaths of the hostages,” Halevi continues.
Halevi says that “the IDF, and I as its commander, are responsible for what happened, and we will do everything to prevent the recurrence of such cases in the continuation of the fighting.”
“I attempt to empathize with the soldier in Shejaiya, enduring days of intense combat, facing close encounters with terrorists disguised as civilians who employ deceptive tactics. He must stay vigilant and prepared for any potential threat,” states Halevi.
“A life-or-death outcome hinges on a split-second decision,” he emphasizes, adding that “the three hostages went to great lengths to signal that they posed no threat: opting to be shirtless to dispel suspicions of carrying explosives and holding a white cloth to convey their non-threatening intent.”
“The firing upon the hostages was in violation of the open-fire regulations. It is prohibited to shoot at individuals displaying a white flag and seeking surrender. However, this incident occurred amid combat and under duress,” states Halevi.
He mentions that the IDF has concluded a preliminary inquiry into the matter and promptly distributed updated protocols to ground forces.
“We communicated the challenging findings to the families and transparently shared them with the public,” he further explains.
Halevi emphasizes the obligation to rescue hostages alive, acknowledging potential cases where hostages might escape or be left behind during combat. He underscores the importance of ongoing fighting, stating it brings opportunities for hostage return. Halevi connects the determined military efforts to the goal of dismantling the enemy and ensuring the safety of Gaza border communities. He asserts the need to continue the robust fight without losing sight of its objectives.