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In 'unbearable tragedy,' IDF forces mistakenly kill three Israeli hostages in Gaza battle zone

IDF spokesman: 'This is a sad and painful event for all of us, and the IDF bears responsibility for everything that happened'

(L-R) Israeli ostages Yotam Haim, Samar Talalka and Alon Lulu Shamriz, who were killed mistakenly by IDF troops in Gaza, December 15, 2023. (Photo courtesy)

Israeli soldiers mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages on Friday in northern Gaza’s Shejaiya battlezone after misidentifying them as terror threats, IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari stated on Friday.

The senior IDF official stressed that the Israeli military assumed full responsibility for the “tragic incident,” which reportedly took place early on Friday.

“This is a sad and painful event for all of us, and the IDF bears responsibility for everything that happened,” Hagari stated.

One of the Israeli hostages accidentally killed was identified as Yotam Haim, 28, was a drummer for a heavy metal band. Haim was abducted on Oct. 7 by Hamas terrorists in his home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, an Israeli community close to the Gaza Strip.

The second hostage killed in friendly fire was Alon Shamriz, 26, a computer engineering student, also from Kfar Aza.

The third hostage was identified as Samar Fuad Talalka, 22, an Israeli Bedouin citizen from Houra who was abducted from the community Nir Am, where he worked. 

Shejaiya is considered a major Hamas stronghold and some of the heaviest battles between Israeli forces and Hamas terrorists have taken place in this heavily fortified Gaza City neighborhood. 

Hagari stressed that the Israeli military would “gather the facts and clarify the details of the incident.”

In addition, IDF soldiers have reportedly received new procedures for identifying hostages “to do everything to prevent another tragic event like this.”

Hagari noted that the tragic incident “took place in a battle zone where the troops encountered many terrorists in recent days, and today, and fought hard battles.”

“In some cases, suicide bombers were encountered, and also attacks in which terrorists tried to lure our forces and draw them into an ambush. Shortly after the tragic incident, another encounter with terrorists took place near the scene of the incident,” Hagari added. 

“The IDF expresses deep sorrow for the disaster and shares in the grief of the families. May their memory be blessed,” the spokesman said in his address to the Israeli public.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident an "unbearable tragedy."

"All of Israel is grieving their loss," the prime minister stated.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration described the incident as a “tragic mistake.” 

Hamas terrorists and their accomplices abducted around 240 Israeli and international hostages during their brutal surprise attack on southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7. More than 100 hostages are still believed to held in captivity by the terror group in the Gaza Strip. However, their whereabouts and health conditions remain unknown. 

On Friday, Israeli forces retrieved the bodies of one Israeli civilian and two IDF soldiers who were kidnapped on Oct. 7 and brought into Gaza. They were identified as Elia Toledano (28), Cpl. Nik Beizer (19) and Sgt. Ron Sherman (19). 

Toledano older brother Daniel was heartbroken. 

“The smile of all of us went out today for good,” Daniel told the Ynet news outlet. 

“My little brother Elia was a man full of joy, a symbol of true friendship and endless giving. To imagine that I will never see his sweet smile again, makes me never want to smile again without him. A true star was taken from all of us today without whom the sky is incomplete,” he added. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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