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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

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."

Israeli tanks firing at building in Gaza -- Image via X

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.

Reuters noted 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."

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