Israeli Troops Accidentally Kill Three Hostages in Gaza after Mistaking them for Hamas Terrorists, IDF Confirms

The Israeli military believes that the three hostages "fled or were abandoned by the terrorists who held them captive."

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Three Israeli hostages were killed after the Israel Defense Forces mistakenly identified them as a "threat" amid crossfire in Gaza on Friday. The military expressed "deep sorrow" for the tragic deaths. The Israeli military confirmed the return of the bodies to Israel and verified the identities of the three individuals who lost their lives.

The three hostages have been identified as Yotam Haim and Samer Talalka, both kidnapped from Kibbutz Kfar Aza during the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. The IDF released the name of the third hostage as Alon Shamriz, who was also kidnapped from Kibbutz Kfar Aza. The Israeli military said it "began reviewing the incident immediately."

Killed Mistakenly

Israeli Defense Forces mistakenly killed 3 Israeli hostages after mistaking them for Hamas terrorists X

The Israeli military acknowledged that its troops "mistakenly identified three Israeli hostages as a threat" amid combat operations in Shejaiya, a densely populated neighborhood in the Gaza City area where intense fighting has been taking place. Tragically, the troops fired upon the three individuals, resulting in their deaths, 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," IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a news briefing on Friday.

"During searches and checks in the area in which the incident occurred, a suspicion arose over the identities of the deceased," Hagari added. "Their bodies were transferred to Israeli territory for examination, after which it was confirmed that they were three Israeli hostages."

The Israeli military believes that the three hostages "fled or were abandoned by the terrorists who held them captive."

IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari
IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari X

Yotam Haim, 28, was a heavy metal drummer in the band Persephore. He was abducted from his home at the beginning of the conflict, and his home was set on fire by Hamas fighters.

Alon Shamriz, 26, was a computer engineering student, and according to the Times of Israel, his parents are from Iran.

IDF Regrets Mistake

The IDF conducted an "inspection" of the area, during which a "suspicion arose regarding the identity of the dead," as stated by the IDF.

Alon Shamriz
Alon Shamriz Facebook

"The bodies were taken for examination in Israeli territory, after which it turned out that they were three Israeli abductees," the force said in a tweet.

Hey were transported to a "deer center" in a Shura camp in Israel, where they were identified.

"The IDF expresses deep sorrow for the incident and shares in the grief of the families. The IDF will continue to act in all efforts to return the abductees home," it said.

Samer Fouad Al-Talalka
Samer Fouad Al-Talalka X

The region has been a "battle zone" for several days, marked by encounters with "suicide bombers" and "attacks in which terrorists tried to lure our forces and draw them into an ambush," said IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

"Shortly after the tragic incident, another encounter with terrorists took place near the scene of the incident," he said.

Israel's ground forces received new protocols aimed at improving the identification of hostages, to prevent further casualties among hostages. The specific measures to be implemented, however, are not yet clear.

Yotam Haim
Yotam Haim X

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed "deep sorrow" for the hostages, expressing that he and the people of Israel "mourn the fall of three of our dear sons."

"This is an unbearable tragedy. The entire State of Israel mourns this evening. My heart goes out to the grieving families in their difficult time," he said, according to the Times of Israel.

"Even on this difficult evening, we will dress our wounds, learn the necessary lessons and continue with our supreme effort to return all our hostages home safely."

This article was first published on December 16, 2023