Hostages were holding white cloth on stick when Israeli forces shot them dead, IDF says

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Three Israeli hostages mistakenly killed by the IDF had been holding a white flag, an Israeli military official has said.

The official said an initial inquiry into the incident has found the hostages were fired upon against Israel’s rules of engagement.

The IDF said yesterday that the victims – all Israeli men in their 20s – were killed during combat with Hamas militants.

They had wrongly been identified as a threat, the military said previously.

The victims were identified as Samer Talalka, 22, Yotam Haim, 28, and Alon Shamriz, 26.

Sharing further updates, the IDF official said the hostages were killed in an area of intense combat where Hamas militants operate in civilian attire and use deception tactics.

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The deaths sparked a protest in Tel Aviv

A soldier saw the hostages emerging tens of meters from Israeli forces in the area of Shejaiya, he added.

“They’re all without shirts and they have a stick with a white cloth on it. The soldier feels threatened and opens fire. He declares that they’re terrorists, they [forces] open fire, two are killed immediately,” the military official stated.

The third hostage was wounded and retreated into a nearby building where he called for help in Hebrew, the official said.

“Immediately the battalion commander issues a ceasefire order, but again there’s another burst of fire towards the third
figure and he also dies,” said the official. “This was against our rules of engagement,” he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called their deaths an “unbearable tragedy” and vowed to continue “with a supreme effort to return all the hostages home safely”.

“Together with the entire people of Israel, I bow my head in deep sorrow and mourn the death of three of our dear sons who were kidnapped,” Mr Netanyahu said.

“My heart goes out to the grieving families in their difficult time.”

The three killed hostages were abducted by Hamas during their attack on 7 October which triggered the war. More than 100 hostages still remain captive, according to Israeli authorities.

The Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum, which represents the families of hostages, expressed its condolences and paid tribute to the victims.

It said that “Yotam was a gifted musician and dedicated metal music fan who idolised the band Megadeth” while “Samer was an avid motorcyclist who loved to ride around the countryside and spend time with friends”.

The forum added: “Alon’s family and friends described him as a lover of life and a dedicated basketball fan.”

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