Protests erupt after IDF kill three Israeli hostages 'mistakenly identified as threat' in Gaza

16 December 2023, 11:06

Protests erupted after news emerged that the three hostages were killed by the IDF
Protests erupted after news emerged that the three hostages were killed by the IDF. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Protests erupted in Tel Aviv after IDF soldiers shot and killed three Israeli hostages, having mistakenly identified them as a threat during the war with Hamas.

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The three men were killed by the Israeli military after they had escaped their Hamas captors.

Protests broke out in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv after the news emerged on Friday night, with shouts heard of "deal, now!" and calling 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.

Samer Talalka (left), 22, and Yotam Haim (right), 28, were mistakenly identified as a threat and killed by IDF soldiers this morning, alongside Alon Shamriz (centre), 26, who was later identified
Samer Talalka (left), 22, and Yotam Haim (right), 28, were mistakenly identified as a threat and killed by IDF soldiers this morning, alongside Alon Shamriz (centre), 26, who was later identified. Picture: Hostage And Missing Families Forum and courtesy

Spokesperson for the IDF Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said soldiers were engaged in battles in northern Gaza's Shejaiya region when they mistakenly opened fire on them.

The three Israeli hostages were killed after being 'mistakenly identified' as a threat, the spokesperson added.

“This is a tragic incident, 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," the spokesperson continued.

Protesters in Tel Aviv
Protesters in Tel Aviv. Picture: Getty

“This is an area where the soldiers encountered many terrorists, including suicide bombers."

He said the bodies were transferred to Israeli territory for examination where they were confirmed as Israeli hostages.

Hagari named two of the hostages as Samer Talalka, who was abducted from Nir Am, and Yotam Haim, taken by Hamas from the Kfar Aza region. Both were taken during Hamas' October 7 attack.

Alon Shamriz, 23, the third hostage, was not initially named on request of the family, before his name was issued this evening.

Israeli military tanks roll near the border with the Gaza Strip amid continuing battles between Israel and Hamas, December 3, 2023
Israeli military tanks roll near the border with the Gaza Strip amid continuing battles between Israel and Hamas, December 3, 2023. Picture: Alamy

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It is not yet clear if the three hostages mistakenly killed by the IDF had escaped imprisonment by Hamas or if they were already abandoned by the group.

Some reports in Israel said the three hostages had escaped and were heading towards IDF soldiers, but this was not yet confirmed by officials.

Hagari said the hostages were wearing similar clothing to locals in the Gaza Strip.

The spokesperson said the three hostages "appeared [to Israel's soldiers] to be terrorists because there were no good visuals on them, and they could have been wearing clothes that belonged to locals."

Hagari said the incident was now "under review" and stressed there would be "full transparency" in its investigation of the erroneous killings.

In his statement this evening, Hagari said: "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."

Israeli soldiers are seen at a staging area near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023 (file image) (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Israeli soldiers are seen at a staging area near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023 (file image) (AP Photo/Leo Correa). Picture: Alamy

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It comes after Israel's military earlier this week said it has recovered two bodies of hostages taken during Hamas's October 7 attack during an operation in Gaza today. Israel's officials identified the bodies as Eden Zakaria, 27, and Ziv Dado, 36.

Ms Zakaria was taken hostage by the Hamas-led attack at the Nova rave near Re’im, and had travelled to the festival with her boyfriend Ofek Kimchi, 23, who was killed in the attack.

Mr Dado was also killed during the October 7 onslaught. Israel had previously identified Mr Dado as a "fallen soldier held" by Hamas.

Following identification, Israel's officials informed Mr Dado and Ms Zakaria's families and have since returned their bodies home. The bodies were also examined by medical and rabbinical authorities.

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