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‘Is the blood of my son less important?’ mother of Israeli hostage asks after IDF dismisses officers

Officers dismissed over WCK tragedy, not for tragic killing of Israeli hostages

Iris Haim, mother of Israeli hostage Yotam Haim, during a press conference at the Israel Embassy in London, Nov. 20, 2023. (Photo: PA Images via Reuters)

After the IDF dismissed two senior officers for sharing responsibility in the mistaken killing of seven aid workers in Gaza, the mother of an Israeli hostage who was mistakenly killed by the IDF, questioned the decision in a moving letter sent to the army’s chief of staff.

“This letter does not challenge your professional decision and I am sure that you have examined the case very carefully,” Iris Haim, mother of Yotam Haim who was kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7, began in her letter to Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi.

Yotam and two other hostages were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers last December in northern Gaza’s Shejaiya battlezone after misidentifying them as terrorists.

To date, the IDF has not announced if any of the involved soldiers or officers were punished for the incident.

“Not only did we not blame the soldiers, nor the direct commander, nor anyone in the senior ranks, we also issued a strengthening message that the fighting must continue because that is our goal, that's the only way we can win,” Haim noted.

“We did not seek to dismiss anyone… And even today it’s not what I’m asking for.”

Iris and Yotam Haim (Photo: KAN 11)

“But here, foreign citizens are accidentally killed by IDF forces and the world is in an uproar. One of the representatives protesting against the army is the prime minister of Poland. Yotam, my son, also has Polish citizenship,” she continued.

Several Polish officials condemned the Israeli strike that killed seven aid workers, including a Polish citizen. Polish President Andrzej Duda also called for Israel to pay “appropriate compensation” to his family.

“Interestingly, the Polish citizen named Yotam Haim did not really interest the prime minister of Poland. We have not heard from him that he shares in our grief, a kidnapped Polish citizen who was killed,” Haim wrote.

“He must not have turned to you to denounce the killing, right? Is the blood of my son less important than the blood of citizens of a foreign country? That’s what your decision implies for me,” she told Halevi.

“We, the family of a kidnapped citizen, support our soldiers, support our army and the commanders despite our terrible pain… because we believe that the soldiers do everything to protect us and that terrible things happen during war.”

“And you? Do you have the back of your commanders, your soldiers? I see this message: 'Before you shoot, think a few times, because you might hit a foreign citizen.' Our citizens can be killed, even the soldiers.”

“How can we continue to live here with this message? How do you think I feel now...Me and my family? We want to continue to believe that our army is motivated by value decisions, which serve the country and the hostages and not the interests of the antisemitic countries around us.”

“I conclude my appeal to you with a request to change the message conveyed to the people of Israel and the nations of the world – that our soldiers and citizens are worth less – and to change the decision. Return the officers to their positions.”

“During war, mistakes happen, the prices we pay are already too heavy to bear, and this price is unnecessary,” Haim concluded.

Haim’s remarkable letter followed criticism of Halevi’s decision by several right-wing politicians. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich accused Halevi of making Col. Nochi Mandel, one of the two dismissed officers, a “scapegoat.”

“The fact that of all the failures on October 7, the first and only officer who… is dismissed in a phone call is Nochi Mandel, is outrageous and sends a problematic message to commanders and fighters,” he said.

In the days following the decision, several social media accounts published pictures, purportedly taken by soldiers in the Gaza Strip, showing graffiti criticizing Halevi and supporting Mandel.

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

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