Three Israeli Hostages Killed in Error Had White Flag, Israel Says

The Israeli navy on Saturday stated three hostages mistakenly killed by Israeli troops had been shirtless, unarmed and bearing a makeshift white flag. The troubling particulars of how they died have created widespread anguish and prompted renewed requires a pause within the combating to permit extra hostages to be launched.

The navy, which acknowledged that the killings violated its guidelines of engagement, announced the deaths on Friday, hours after saying it had recovered the bodies of three other Israeli hostages in Gaza.

Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevy, the Israeli navy chief of workers, stated on Saturday that the three hostages had achieved “every thing in order that we’d perceive” that they have been innocent.

“The capturing of the hostages was carried out opposite to the open-fire laws,” he stated. “It’s forbidden to shoot at those that elevate a white flag and search to give up.”

Because the demise toll of Palestinians killed in 70 days of struggle soared to just about 20,000, in line with Gazan well being officers, the shootings of the Israeli hostages underlined the persevering with dangers for the greater than 120 individuals who Israel says are nonetheless captive and raised questions on Israel’s prosecution of the struggle.

Some households of the hostages seized on the shootings to induce the federal government to make securing the captives’ freedom its highest precedence.

Itzik Horn, whose kids Eitan, 37, and Yair, 45, have been kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz, stated the killings strengthened his perception that Israel should instantly attain a deal to free all of the captives, even when it means releasing Palestinians being held in Israeli jails on terrorism fees.

“Allow them to free all of the Palestinian prisoners we now have right here, all of the terrorists — what do I care,” Mr. Horn stated in an interview. “Crucial factor isn’t to defeat Hamas. The one victory right here is to deliver again all of the hostages.”

As Israelis took to the streets to demand the return of the hostages, David Barnea, the top of Mossad, Israel’s spy service, met with Qatari officers on Friday in Europe to debate the opportunity of a renewed pause within the combating and additional exchanges of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners. The assembly had been deliberate earlier than the demise of the hostages.

Describing the outcomes of a preliminary inquiry, the Israeli navy stated on Saturday that its troopers had been working in Shejaiya, an space of Gaza Metropolis that had seen intense combating. The troopers have been on alert for makes an attempt by Hamas to ambush Israeli forces, probably in civilian garments, the navy stated.

The three hostages emerged with out shirts from a constructing tens of yards away from the Israeli troopers, bearing a persist with a white fabric, the navy stated. One soldier, believing the lads posed a menace, opened fireplace, killing two of them and wounding the third, the early investigation discovered.

The third hostage fled into the constructing, from which a cry in Hebrew for assist may very well be heard, the navy stated. The battalion commander ordered the forces to carry their fireplace. However the wounded hostage later re-emerged, after which he was shot and killed, the navy assertion stated.

The hostages might have escaped or had been deserted by their captors, stated an Israeli navy official, talking on the situation of anonymity underneath navy protocol.

All three males killed — recognized by the navy as Yotam Haim, Alon Shamriz and Samer Talalka — have been kidnapped on Oct. 7 from two kibbutzim in southern Israel close to the Gaza border.

The Hostages and Lacking Households Discussion board, which represents these kidnapped on Oct. 7 and their family members, stated Mr. Talalka, a member of Israel’s Bedouin minority, had been working at a hen hatchery when he was kidnapped. Mr. Haim was a drummer who had been set to carry out at a heavy-metal music pageant in Tel Aviv on the evening of the Hamas assaults. Mr. Shamriz was about to begin faculty programs in pc engineering.

As Israelis mourned their deaths, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to as the killings “an insufferable tragedy” and praised the “courageous warriors who’re dedicated to the sacred mission of returning our hostages, even at the price of their lives.”

The Israeli navy has come underneath widespread worldwide criticism for what President Biden described final week as indiscriminate bombing. In 10 weeks of struggle, Israel has struck greater than 22,000 targets within the Gaza Strip, a barrage that has killed hundreds of civilians, prompting the U.N. secretary basic, António Guterres, final month to explain Gaza as a “graveyard for youngsters.”

Palestinians and critics of how Israel has been combating in Gaza have referred to as Friday’s shootings a small instance of the Israeli navy’s disregard for civilians in Gaza.

“Beneath the legal guidelines of struggle, persons are presumed to be civilians,” stated Sari Bashi, program director at Human Rights Watch. “There must be sturdy data to recommend they aren’t earlier than you possibly can kill them.”

On this case, she stated, “no one batted a watch earlier than killing them.” She added that the investigation got here solely as a result of the lads have been Israelis.

Akram Attaallah, a columnist for Al-Ayyam, a Palestinian newspaper within the West Financial institution, stated that the episode was a “condemnation of the Israeli military” and confirmed that Israeli forces have been combating the struggle with little regard for civilian life.

“Israel kills even those that give up and lift the white flag,” stated Mr. Attaallah, who’s from Gaza.

Israel says it seeks to restrict civilian casualties and locations blame for the excessive demise totals in Gaza on Hamas, which it says places navy installations in civilian areas in addition to in faculties, mosques and hospitals.

The Israeli navy has stated that roughly 20 p.c of Israeli troopers who’ve died within the struggle have been killed by its personal forces in airstrikes, shelling, gunfire and accidents, many due to mistaken identification. As of Saturday, 119 Israeli troopers have been killed in Gaza.

Yagil Levy, a civil-military relations professional on the Open College of Israel, described the 20-percent fee of so-called friendly-fire errors as “unprecedented” for the Israeli navy.

Additionally killed within the struggle have been 135 workers members of the United Nations and 64 journalists and information media employees, in line with the Committee to Defend Journalists, a nonprofit group based mostly in New York.

Over the previous week, the Israeli navy has described intense city warfare in Gaza; 9 Israeli troopers have been killed on Tuesday whereas making an attempt to rescue wounded troops in Shejaiya, the identical neighborhood of Gaza Metropolis the place the three hostages have been killed on Friday.

Alongside the combating, United Nations officers have described scenes of chaos, hunger and utter despair in Gaza among the many territory’s 2.2 million folks, most of whom have been pressured to flee their properties.

Philippe Lazzarini, who leads the U.N. company charged with aiding Palestinians, traveled to Gaza final week. He described the territory as a “dwelling hell.”

James Elder, a spokesman for the United Nation’s Kids’s Fund, additionally visited northern and southern Gaza throughout a weeklong cease-fire late final month. He wrote this week of chaotic hospitals inundated by the wounded and surrounded by piles of rotting rubbish.

“In my 20 years with UNICEF, touring from one humanitarian disaster to the subsequent — from famines to floods and struggle zones to refugee camps — I’ve merely by no means seen such devastation and despair as is going on in Gaza,” he stated.

World concern additionally grew on Saturday about tensions spilling over from the struggle and disrupting essential delivery lanes within the Pink Sea, the place the Houthis, an armed group that controls a lot of northern Yemen, have been staging drone and missile assaults.

The Egyptian state media reported that the forces had shot down a drone off the coast of Dahab, a seaside city on the Gulf of Aqaba. The report didn’t say the place the drone had come from.

The Houthi militia claimed to have launched numerous assault drones towards the Israeli Pink Sea port of Eilat. Nir Dinar, an Israeli navy spokesman, stated he couldn’t verify that declare.

In latest weeks, the US has been in discussions with its allies to ascertain a naval activity drive to guard maritime visitors via the area, an initiative that grew to become extra pressing this previous week after the Houthis hit a Norwegian tanker certain for Italy with a cruise missile.

Reporting was contributed by Ronen Bergman, Liam Stack, Mike Ives and Gaya Gupta.

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