Israel: Israel on Thursday concluded its investigation into the killing of three hostages by its own troops. On December 15, three hostages, namely Yotam Haim, Alon Shamriz and Samer El-Talalqa, were mistakenly shot dead by Israeli forces during their offensive in Gaza against Hamas. As per the concluded investigation, Israeli soldiers had come close to the hostages when they stormed a Gaza building just days before the killing, reported news agency AFP.
During their raid at the building, the soldiers ignored cries for “help” from the hostages as they interpreted that as a “terrorist deception attempt” by Hamas terrorists.
The Israeli soldiers had exited the building believing it to be rigged with explosives. On December 10, they killed five Hamas terrorists trying to escape from the building.
According to an Israeli military probe, the hostages also probably fled the building and on December 15, Israeli soldiers mistakenly shot them dead. Two of the hostages were shot dead instantly. The third hostage managed to escape and soldiers were told to hold fire in order to identify him. The third hostage said “help!” and “they’re shooting at me”, and then Israeli commanders asked him to advance towards the soldiers.
But two soldiers failed to hear the order due to noise from a nearby tank and shot the third hostage, the probe said. All three hostages were shirtless and one of them carried a white flag.
The army “failed in its mission to rescue the hostages in this event,” army chief Herzi Halevi said in a statement published along with the report of the investigation. He accepted that the three fatalities “could have been prevented”.
Meanwhile, 129 hostages are still held in captivity in the Gaza Strip and pressure is mounting on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to secure the safe release of the remaining hostages.
Notably, 250 hostages were abducted by Hamas terrorists when they attacked Southern Israel on a Jewish holiday on October 7. More than 100 hostages were released in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, during the brief truce between Israel and Hamas in November.