Israel Defense Force soldiers killed three hostages in a case of mistaken identity, IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said, during the fierce fighting in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood.
According to Hagari, three men held hostage by Hamas since October 7 escaped from their captors and tried to contact an IDF unit. They were misidentified by Israeli soldiers as enemies and killed.
The men were Alon Samriz, 26, from Kfar Azza; Samer Fouad al-Talalka, 24, of Hurra; and Yotam Haim, 28, also from Kfar Azza.
The IDF has taken full responsibility for the incident, and an investigation is underway.
There is a lot of leftist and, sadly, anti-semitic commentary from people on the right blaming Israel for a “shoot first, ask questions later” policy in clearing Hamas strongholds. The IDF is operating in an environment where civilians, even though they’ve been ordered to evacuate the area and had safe corridors provided for that purpose, remain. Hamas terrorists deliberately don’t wear uniforms, so they can’t be easily sorted out from civilians. They also are known to use suicide attacks, so anyone not in uniform trying to get close to your unit will probably have a suboptimal, from the perspective, outcome.
Urban fighting requires split-second shoot/no-shoot decisions, and any lapse in procedure, no matter how small, has the potential to end up in a blue-on-blue accident. Thirteen of the 105 Israeli soldiers known to be killed in action have been killed by friendly fire.
While this is a tragedy, there is a likelihood more heartbreak is ahead as Hamas lines are compressed, and the 100 or so Israelis still held hostage have an increasing chance of coming under IDF fire. But never lose sight of the fact that there are hostages in Gaza for precisely one reason: the actions of Hamas on October 7. It is Hamas that bears the blame for these men’s deaths and the deaths of over 1200 other Israeli civilians.