Shortly before being killed, one of the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped by suspected Hamas members and found dead this week made a call to Israeli emergency services – a call the Israeli government has made public, in which Gilad Shaar can be heard calling for help before his voice is lost in a storm of gunshots.
The call, from June 12, is believed to be of the final minutes of the teens’ lives, according to Haaretz. The call is made from 16-year-old Gilad Shaar’s telephone, and it is believed that he is the voice on the line, who tells the operator, “they kidnapped me.” Little else is heard before gunshots overpower the foreground of the call.
Haaretz reports that Israeli authorities are investigating the response to the call from emergency responders. It is believed that the call was initially dismissed as a prank and that authorities “did not follow up for hours.” It was within those hours that the three children were killed. The investigative committee, Haaretz notes, has been quoted as describing the reaction to the call as a “severe failure of conduct.” Four police officers have already been fired from their positions for not responding with sufficient urgency to the emergency call.
The audio was initially under a gag order, the Jerusalem Post reports, but had already been widely distributed clandestinely through the telephone application WhatsApp, prompting the government to partially lift the order. The Post also reports that not all officers dismissed the call – on record, there appear to be seven attempts to call the number back, all of which failed. Some have speculated that making the call to begin with prompted the abductors to kill the three boys before they could be found.
The discovery of the three bodies was made public Monday, as the Israeli cabinet organized for an emergency meeting. Officials vowed to “eradicate Hamas” in response to the murders, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promising a strong campaign against the terrorist group. Israeli forces attacked Gaza using airstrikes shortly after.
The Obama administration responded to the murders by calling for Israel and Palestine to “cooperate.” While condemning the murders, President Obama offered condolences personally to the families of those slain, though his department urged “restraint” on the part of the Israeli government in light of the attacks.
The emergency call is difficult to listen to and not for a sensitive audience. Listen to what are likely the final words of the murdered teens below: