Last Updated: December 18, 2023, 13:57 IST
A sign reading Help, three hostages in Hebrew, that the Israeli military says was found on a Gaza building where three Israeli hostages had been hiding before they were mistakenly killed by Israeli forces. (Reuters)
The deaths of the three men, all in their twenties, have sparked protests in Tel Aviv, where demonstrators demanded that the authorities offer a new plan
Three hostages mistakenly killed by Israeli soldiers in Gaza on Friday had used leftover food to write ‘SOS’ in Hebrew, media reports have said. The military distributed photographs of the white cloth signs written in red. They were hung on a building about 200 metres from where the hostages were shot.
“Three people came out, they took into account that they are taking a risk by approaching IDF troops, to minimize the risk they really thought, they took off their shirts so that no one would think they have an explosive device and held a white cloth on a pole to identify themselves. They came speaking Hebrew, calling for help,” said Chief of the General Staff Major-General Herzi Halevi, according to Reuters.
Shirtless with white flag
The Israeli military on Friday identified the three hostages killed in Shejaiya, an eastern suburb of Gaza City, as Yotam Haim and Alon Shamriz, abducted from Kibbutz Kfar Aza, and Samer al-Talalka, abducted from nearby Kibbutz Nir Am. The three hostages raised a white flag and were shirtless when they were shot. Israel’s military chief told troops inside Gaza not to repeat that mistake, as the IDF began to probe into the deaths.
“What if it is two Gazans with a white flag coming out to surrender, do we shoot them? Absolutely not,” said General Herzi Halevi. “Even those who are fighting us, if they lay down their arms and raise their hands, we arrest them, we don’t shoot them,” he added.
“You see two people, they are with hands up and without shirts, take two seconds, and I want to tell you something just as important, and if it’s two Gazans with a white flag coming out to surrender why would we shoot at them? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. That’s not the IDF.”… pic.twitter.com/0oDdt8ZseS— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) December 17, 2023
The deaths of the three men, all in their twenties, have sparked protests in Tel Aviv, where demonstrators demanded that the authorities offer a new plan for bringing home the remaining 129 hostages still held in the Gaza Strip. More than 100 Israeli hostages remain in Gaza, held incommunicado despite Israeli calls for Red Cross access.
More than 100 women, children, teenagers, and foreigners were released after a deal was struck in late November. Other hostages have been declared dead by Israeli authorities. Hamas militants rampaged through Israeli towns on October 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 240 hostages. Israel then launched a counter-attack, during which Gaza health authorities say close to 19,000 people have been killed.
(With agency inputs)