The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, said yesterday that he was “heartbroken” after the Israeli army “mistakenly” killed three Israeli hostages in Gaza, but defended that his country must maintain “military pressure.”
“It left me heartbroken. He left the entire nation heartbroken,” Netanyahu said. “Despite this misfortune, I want to remember one thing: military pressure is necessary to achieve the return of the hostages and achieve victory against our enemies,” he added.
Relatives of hostages held in the Gaza Strip yesterday demanded that the Israeli government act as quickly as possible to obtain their release, after the details of the episode in which the Israeli army “mistakenly” killed three of them became known. .
The army of the Jewish State admitted that the three hostages killed by its soldiers in Gaza waved a white flag and asked for help in Hebrew, after releasing the first elements of its investigation into this incident, which sparked protests in Tel Aviv.
“We only recover dead bodies. We want them to stop the fighting and start negotiating,” said Noam Perry, daughter of an Israeli held by Hamas and its allies, during a rally in the Israeli city yesterday.
“We have the impression that they are playing Russian roulette: who will be the next to know of the death of a loved one? We want to know what proposal is on the government’s table,” added Ruby Chen, father of Itay Chen, a 19-year-old hostage.
The victims, Yotam Haim (28 years old), Alon Shamriz (26) and Samer El Talalqa (25), died during operations in a Gaza City neighborhood, according to the army. The three were among around 250 people kidnapped by Islamist militants during Hamas’ unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7, which left 1,140 people dead, mostly civilians, according to Israeli authorities.
In response, Israel promised to “annihilate” Hamas and began an offensive in Gaza, which now extends to the entire territory, including the south, where hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians are crowded.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza, governed by the Islamist movement since 2007, states that Israeli bombings have caused at least 18,800 deaths so far, 70% of them women, children and adolescents.
Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari explained Friday that during fighting in Gaza City, troops “mistakenly identified three Israeli hostages as a threat and, as a result, soldiers fired at them.”
“Call for help in Hebrew.” According to the first elements of the investigation, the hostages appeared with an improvised white flag, in a sector where troops suffer numerous ambushes.
“One of the soldiers saw them appear. “They were not wearing a shirt and were holding a stick with a white cloth,” but the soldier felt threatened and fired, a military official told reporters on Saturday. “Two of the hostages died instantly, another was injured and ran towards the building,” added this source, who stated that later the soldiers “heard a call for help in Hebrew.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the death of the hostages an “unbearable tragedy.”
A truce agreement, brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United States, allowed a one-week pause in the fighting at the end of November and the release of more than one hundred hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel. There are still 129 hostages in Gaza.
Following the announcement of the death of the three hostages, the news website Axios reported that the director of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, David Barnea, plans to meet this weekend in Europe with the Qatari Prime Minister, Mohamed bin Abdulrahman. Al Thani, to contemplate a second phase of truce.
“The Zionist army knows very well our conditions for releasing them, none of them will be released if they do not accept our conditions,” said Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas’ military branch.
“Fierce combats.” The UN and NGOs describe living conditions in the overcrowded Gaza Strip, besieged by Israel since October 9, as a nightmare. Palestinian civilians are crowded into ever smaller areas.
Around 1.9 million inhabitants (85% of its population) were displaced, according to the UN. Many had to flee several times as the fighting spread across the territory.
Hamas reported on Saturday “fierce fighting” in the Jabaliya sector (north), air strikes and artillery fire in Khan Yunis, the new epicenter of the fighting in the south of the enclave.
In the occupied West Bank, where violence has intensified since the start of the war, eight Palestinians were detained in Nablus, where the Israeli army launched an operation, the Palestinian press agency Wafa reported. Israel, for its part, continues to be the target of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip.
Furthermore, the war continues to heighten regional tensions. Two drones were intercepted by the Egyptian army and a British warship on Friday near the border with Israel, attacked almost daily with drones by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, close to Iran.
The Israeli army announced yesterday that one soldier was killed and two others were wounded in a northern area, near the border with Lebanon, due to a “hostile aircraft.”
Faced with growing international pressure, especially from its American ally, Israel announced the “temporary” opening of a point to allow the delivery of aid to Gaza through the Kerem Shalom border crossing.