Tragedy: Three Hostages Mistakenly Killed by IDF During Firefight Against Hamas in Gaza

IDF soldiers cry (Shaul Schwarz / Getty)
Shaul Schwarz / Getty

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Friday that Israeli soldiers involved in combat against Hamas terrorists in Gaza had killed three Israeli hostages who were mistaken for the enemy.

In a statement, the IDF said:

During combat in Shejaiya, the IDF mistakenly identified three Israeli hostages as a threat. As a result, the troops fired toward them and they were killed.

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.

Their bodies were taken to the “Hatzvi” Center at the Shura Camp for further examination, where the hostages were identified:

Yotam Haim, who was kidnapped from Kibbutz Kfar Aza by the Hamas terrorist organization on October 7th.

Samer Talalka, who was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Am by the Hamas terrorist organization on October 7th.

The third hostage’s family has been notified, who requested that his name will not be broadcasted.

IDF and Israel Police representatives have notified all of the families.

The IDF began reviewing the incident immediately. The IDF emphasizes that this is an active combat zone in which ongoing fighting over the last few days has occurred. Immediate lessons from the event have been learned, which have been passed on to all IDF troops in the field.

The IDF expresses deep remorse over the tragic incident and sends the families its heartfelt condolences. Our national mission is to locate the missing and return all the hostages home.

Update: The IDF released an additional statement:

The name of the additional hostage that was mistakenly killed by IDF troops today (Friday), during the incident in Shejaiya, was approved for publication by his family. Alon Shamriz, was kidnapped from Kibbutz Kfar Aza by the Hamas terrorist organization on October 7th. IDF and Israel Police representatives have notified the family of the tragic death.

The IDF expresses deep remorse over the incident and sends the families its heartfelt condolences.

According to the Times of Israel, Yotam Haim, 28, was a heavy metal drummer; Samar Fouad Talalka, 22, was an Arab agricultural worker; Alon Lulu Shamriz, 26, was a computer engineering student.

The exact circumstances of the hostages’ deaths were not released. Regardless, the thought that the hostages were so close to freedom, and that they died tragically, will no doubt cause great anguish in Israel.

Hamas will also see the event as a propaganda coup, and will try to convince Israel that it cannot free the hostages by force.

At the same time, the fact that the IDF was so close to the hostages suggests that further rescues may be possible. One hostage, Ori Megidish, was rescued by IDF soldiers in northern Gaza in late October.

Update: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a statement in which he said the entire nation mourned the “unbearable tragedy.”

In translation (provided by the prime minister’s office):

Together with the entire people of Israel, I bow my head in deep sorrow and mourn the death of three of our hostages, including Yotam Haim and Samer Fouad Talalka.

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.

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

Today, on this painful evening, we will dress our wounds, learn the lessons and continue the most important effort of bringing all the hostages home.

Another Israeli official noted the fact that Jewish and Bedouin Arab Israelis had fallen together, tragically, in the event.

Update: IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a briefing (via IDF translation):

This is a sad and painful event for all of us, and the IDF bears responsibility for everything that happened.

We started investigating the incident immediately. This is a tragic incident, which took place in a combat zone where soldiers encountered many terrorists and fought hard battles in the last days, including today.

In some cases, they also encountered suicide-bombing terrorists, without weapons, as well as experiencing attacks in which terrorists tried to mislead IDF soldiers and draw them into a trap. Shortly after the tragic incident, another encounter with terrorists took place near the scene of the incident.

We are in the stage of collecting the facts and ascertaining the details of the incident. Lessons taken from this incident, particularly key emphases for identifying hostages in combat zones were immediately transferred to all IDF soldiers operating throughout the Gaza Strip, in order to do everything to prevent another tragedy like this.

The IDF expresses deep sorrow regarding this disaster and shares in the grief of the families.

May their memories be a blessing.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Photo: file


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