3 hostages mistakenly killed by troops had been holding a white flag, Israeli navy official says

JERUSALEM — Three Israeli hostages who have been mistakenly shot by Israeli troops within the Gaza Strip had been waving a white flag and have been shirtless once they have been killed, an Israeli navy official mentioned Saturday.

Anger over the mistaken killings is more likely to enhance strain on the Israeli authorities to resume Qatar-mediated negotiations with Hamas over swapping extra captives for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel. Hamas has conditioned additional releases on Israel halting its punishing air and floor marketing campaign in Gaza, now in its eleventh week.

The account of how the hostages died additionally raised questions in regards to the conduct of Israeli floor troops. Palestinians on a number of events reported that Israeli troopers opened fireplace as civilians tried to flee to security.

The navy official, who spoke on situation of anonymity to temporary reporters in keeping with navy laws, mentioned it was possible that the hostages had been deserted by their militant captors or had escaped. The troopers’ habits was “towards our guidelines of engagement,” the official mentioned, and was being investigated on the highest degree.

The three, all younger males of their 20s, have been killed Friday within the Gaza Metropolis space of Shijaiyah, the place troops have engaged in fierce combating with Hamas militants in current days. They’d been amongst greater than 240 individuals taken hostage throughout an unprecedented raid by Hamas into Israel on Oct. 7 by which round 1,200 individuals have been killed, largely civilians. The assault sparked the conflict.

A whole lot of protesters blocked Tel Aviv’s most important freeway late Friday in a spontaneous demonstration calling for the hostages’ return. The hostages’ plight has dominated public discourse in Israel because the Oct. 7 assault. Their households have led a robust public marketing campaign calling on the federal government to do extra to carry them residence.

Hadas Kalderon, whose former associate continues to be held hostage after their two teenage kids have been launched in November, mentioned the Israeli authorities should pay any worth to free all hostages. “To make a deal, now, that’s what I’m saying. Yesterday, not now,” mentioned.

The navy official mentioned the three hostages had emerged from a constructing near Israeli troopers’ positions. They have been waving a white flag and have been shirtless, probably in an effort to sign they posed no menace.

Two have been killed instantly, and the third ran again into the constructing screaming for assist in Hebrew. The commander issued an order to stop fireplace, however one other burst of gunfire killed the third man, the official mentioned.

Israeli media gave a extra detailed account. The mass circulation every day Yediot Ahronot mentioned Saturday that in keeping with an investigation into the incident, a sniper recognized the three hostages as suspects once they emerged from the constructing, regardless of them not being armed, and shot two of the three.

Troopers adopted the third when he bumped into the constructing and hid, shouting at him to return out and at the very least one soldier shot him when he emerged from a staircase, Yediot Ahronot mentioned.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz gave an identical account based mostly on a preliminary investigation, saying the troopers who adopted the third hostage into the constructing believed he was a Hamas member attempting to drag them right into a entice.

Hamas launched over 100 hostages for Palestinian prisoners throughout a quick cease-fire in November. Almost all these freed on each side have been girls and minors. Talks on additional swaps broke down, with Hamas looking for the discharge of extra veteran prisoners for feminine troopers it’s holding.

Israeli political and navy leaders usually say liberating all of the hostages is their high purpose within the conflict alongside destroying Hamas. Nonetheless, they argue that their launch can solely be achieved via navy strain on Hamas, a declare that has sharply divided Israeli public opinion.

After negotiations broke down, Hamas mentioned it is going to solely free the remaining hostages, believed to quantity greater than 130, if Israel ends the conflict and releases all Palestinian prisoners. As of late November, Israel held almost 7,000 Palestinians accused or convicted of safety offenses, together with tons of rounded up because the begin of the conflict.

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