Israeli soldiers

Israeli soldiers are seen as the IDF mobilizes near the Gaza border structure in Nahal Oz, Israel on December 13, 2023.

(Photo: Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu via Getty Images)

IDF Admits to Firing on and Killing Three Israeli Hostages in Gaza

One analyst said the "absolutely horrific" incident underscores "how Israel's approach that anyone left in the north is a legitimate target is wrong."

The Israel Defense Forces said Friday that its soldiers opened fire on and killed three Israeli hostages previously held by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip after mistakenly deeming them a "threat."

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said he believes the three hostages "fled or were abandoned" by their captors before Israeli forces killed them Friday morning.

"After the shooting, during a scan and examination, an immediate suspicion arose regarding the identity of the dead, and their bodies were quickly transferred for examination in Israel, where the hostages were identified," Hagari said, naming two of the hostages as Yotam Haim and Samar Talalka.

The family of the third hostage requested that their name be withheld.

Mairav Zonszein, a senior Israel analyst with the Crisis Group, called the incident "absolutely horrific" and argued that "it reflects just how much goes wrong in war, and specifically how Israel's approach that anyone left in the north is a legitimate target is wrong."

"The only hope is that this hastens a stop to the war," Zonszein added.

More than 130 hostages are still being held in the Gaza Strip, according to the IDF.

The IDF's announcement Friday came as Israeli forces continued their indiscriminate assault on the Gaza Strip, attacking houses, schools, and medical facilities across the Palestinian territory, which is facing an appalling humanitarian crisis.

According to Gaza's Health Ministry, Israeli forces have killed more than 18,700 people—the majority of them women and children—in the besieged enclave since the bombardment began after a Hamas-led attack on southern Israel.

Reutersnoted that "Gaza residents reported another night of intense fighting and bombardment the length of the enclave on Friday" and "hospitals in Deir al-Balah, Khan Younis, and Rafah reported a new influx of dead and wounded."

"The past two weeks have seen an intensification of combat since a week-long truce collapsed at the start of December," the news agency added, "with Israel now extending its ground campaign from the northern half of the enclave into the south."

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.