Israeli troops ‘mistakenly’ kill three hostages in Gaza

Army says it 'expresses deep remorse' after falsely identifying the captives as a threat

Yotam Haim, right, was one of the three hostages killed in Gaza. PA
Powered by automated translation

The Israeli military said on Friday that its forces mistakenly killed three hostages in Gaza after identifying them as a threat and opening fire.

“During combat in Shujaiya, the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] mistakenly identified three Israeli hostages as a threat. As a result, the troops fired toward them and they were killed,” the army said in a statement.

“During searches and checks in the area in which the incident occurred, a suspicion arose over the identities of the deceased.

“Their bodies were transferred to Israeli territory for examination, after which it was confirmed that they were three Israeli hostages.”

The deceased were identified as Yotam Haim, who was kidnapped from Kibbutz Kfar Aza by Hamas on October 7; Alon Shamriz, who was also taken from Kibbutz Kfar Aza; and Samer Al Talalka, who was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Am.

Hamas militants launched an attack on Israeli soil on October 7, killing at least 1,200 people and kidnapping about 240 others.

Israel this week said at least 137 people were still being held by militant groups in Gaza.

“The IDF expresses deep remorse over the tragic incident and sends the families its heartfelt condolences,” the military said in its statement.

“Our national mission is to locate the missing and return all the hostages home."

Mr Haim, 28, was a musician who loved Italian culture, the Hostage and Missing Families Forum said in a statement. He was a drummer with the band Persephore, which was scheduled to perform at a metal music festival in Tel Aviv in October.

Mr Al Talalka, 25, worked with his family at a chicken hatchery. He enjoyed riding his motorcycle in the countryside, the forum said.

"Together with the entire people of Israel, I bow my head in deep sorrow and mourn the death of three of our hostages," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

"This is an unbearable tragedy and all of Israel is grieving their loss this evening. My heart goes out to the bereaved families at this difficult time," he added.

"I strengthen our courageous soldiers engaged in the sacred mission of bringing home our hostages, while risking their lives in doing so."

The US commented on the news earlier on Friday.

"Obviously, this is not an outcome that anybody wanted to see," White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

He added that US President Joe Biden has not spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since the news.

Updated: December 16, 2023, 1:12 AM