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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

IDF killed Israeli hostages in Gaza

The army has said it bears “full responsibility” for the deaths

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has said it accidentally killed three Israeli nationals taken hostage by Hamas, explaining that the “tragic” error occurred in a Gaza neighborhood where troops had come under heavy fire.

IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari described the incident during a press briefing on Friday, noting that the three Israeli captives were mistaken for hostile fighters in the Shejaiya region of northern Gaza.

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“As a result, the troops fired toward them and they were killed,” Hagari said, adding that “Their bodies were transferred to Israeli territory for examination, after which it was confirmed that they were three Israeli hostages.”

Asked whether the hostages had attempted to surrender themselves or to yell to soldiers in their native Hebrew, the military spokesman said officials are still “reviewing the details.” He vowed to provide “full transparency about all the details of this incident.”

Shejaiya has seen fierce fighting in recent days, with Hagari saying Israeli forces had encountered “many terrorists” there, including “suicide bombers” and militants who have “tried to mislead our forces and fire-trap them.”

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While the military is still looking into the accidental killings, it has already handed down “Lessons and relevant instructions concerning the identification of hostages in battle zones,” Hagari continued, adding “This is a sad and painful event for all of us, and the IDF bears responsibility for everything that happened.”

The admission comes just days after Hamas’ armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, claimed that an Israeli special forces unit had mistakenly killed 25-year-old hostage Sahar Baruch during an assault on the militant group. The Israeli government said it was looking into the alleged death, but stopped short of confirming the claim.

Baruch was kidnapped from his home during Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, in addition to some 240 others, while more than 1,200 Israelis were killed. The IDF has conducted heavy airstrikes for weeks and launched a major ground operation in Gaza in retaliation, claiming the lives of over 18,700 Palestinians, according to local health officials.

During a brief pause to the fighting late last month, the warring parties agreed to prisoner exchanges, which saw 110 captives freed by Hamas, as well as 240 Palestinians previously held in Israeli prisons. Though the stoppage was extended two times, allowing additional aid to enter Gaza, the IDF later accused Hamas of violating the terms of the deal and resumed its military campaign.