Israeli hostages mistakenly shot dead 'against rules of engagement' by IDF while 'shirtless and waving white flag'

16 December 2023, 12:18 | Updated: 16 December 2023, 12:51

The three Israeli hostages killed by the IDF
The three Israeli hostages killed by the IDF. Picture: Handout

By Kit Heren

Israeli hostages mistakenly shot dead by the IDF were 'waving a white flag', the Israeli military has said. says.

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Samer Talalka, 22, Yotam Haim, 28, and Alon Shamriz, 26, were killed after being 'mistakenly identified' as a threat.

An IDF official said on Saturday that "the hostages were fired upon against Israel's rules of engagement", according to an initial investigation into the deaths.

The men were killed when the Israeli army encountered them in northern Gaza's Shejaiya region where Hamas fighters are often in plain clothes.

The hostages approached the soldiers naked from the waist up while holding a white flag, the IDF said on Saturday.

Protesters in Tel Aviv after the killings
Protesters in Tel Aviv after the killings. Picture: Getty

A soldier felt threatened and opened fire on them, declaring them to be terrorists. Two were killed immediately, while a third was seriously wounded.

He crawled away and called out for help in Hebrew, at which point soldiers opened fire again, despite the battalion commander telling them to stop shooting.

A spokesperson for the IDF said that the deaths were "tragic" and that lessons had been learned.

He added: "I'll say very, very clear. This was against our rules of engagement. I repeat, it was against our rules of engagement."

The father of Israeli hostage Noa Argamani as protests broke out after the IDF killed three hostages
The father of Israeli hostage Noa Argamani as protests broke out after the IDF killed three hostages. Picture: Getty

The three men had either escaped their Hamas captors or been abandoned.

Protests erupted in Tel Aviv in the aftermath of their deaths, as people called for a deal to be done to release the remaining hostages, of whom there are thought to be about 130.

Shouts could be heard of "deal, now!" as well as calls for the release of all of the hostages.

Protesters also spilled red paint on the streets to symbolise blood, and held up banners criticising the government.

The three Israeli hostages killed by the IDF
The three Israeli hostages killed by the IDF. Picture: Handout

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagar, a spokesperson for the IDF, said on Friday that the killings were a "tragic incident" for which the IDF bears responsibility,” Hagari said.

"During searches and checks in the area in which the incident occurred, a suspicion arose over the identities of the deceased," he continued.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the three men's deaths an "unbearable tragedy".

He pledged to continue "with a supreme effort to return all the hostages home safely".

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