Israeli hostages bore white flags before being killed by occupation forces

Israeli investigation indicates killed detainees waved white flags
(Photo: Twitter/X)
TEL AVIV — On Saturday, Israeli Occupation Forces said three Israeli three hostages mistakenly killed by Israeli troops had been shirtless, unarmed, and bearing a makeshift white flag. The troubling details of how they died have created widespread anguish and prompted renewed calls for a pause in the fighting to allow more hostages to be released.اضافة اعلان

The military, which acknowledged that the killings violated its rules of engagement, announced the deaths Friday, hours after saying it had recovered the bodies of three other Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip.
Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevy, the IOF chief of staff, said Saturday that the three hostages had done “everything so that we would understand” that they were harmless, including removing their shirts to show they bore no explosives.

“The shooting of the hostages was carried out contrary to the open-fire regulations,” he said. “It is forbidden to shoot at those who raise a white flag and seek to surrender.”

As the death toll of Palestinians killed in 70 days of war soared to nearly 20,000, according to Gaza health officials, the shootings of the Israeli hostages underlined the continuing risks for the more than 120 people who Israel says are still captive and raised questions about Israel’s prosecution of the war.
Some families of the hostages seized on the shootings to urge the government to make securing the captives’ freedom its highest priority.

Itzik Horn, whose children Eitan, 37, and Yair, 45, were abducted from Kibbutz Nir Oz, said the killings reinforced his belief that Israel must immediately reach a deal to free all the captives, even if it means releasing Palestinians being held in Israeli jails.

“Let them free all the Palestinian prisoners we have here, all the terrorists — what do I care,” Horn said in an interview. “The most important thing is not to defeat Hamas. The only victory here is to bring back all the hostages.”
“It is forbidden to shoot at those who raise a white flag and seek to surrender.”
As Israelis took to the streets to demand the return of the hostages, David Barnea, the head of Mossad, Israel’s spy service, met with Qatari officials Friday in Europe to discuss the possibility of a renewed pause in the fighting and further exchanges of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners. The meeting had been planned before the death of the hostages.

Describing the results of a preliminary inquiry, the Israeli military said Saturday that its soldiers had been operating in Shejaiya, an area of Gaza City that had seen intense fighting. The soldiers were on alert for attempts by Hamas to ambush Israeli forces, possibly in civilian clothes, the military said.

The three hostages emerged without shirts from a building tens of yards away from the Israeli soldiers, bearing a stick with a white cloth, the military said. One soldier, believing the men posed a threat, opened fire, killing two of them and wounding the third, the early investigation found.

The third hostage fled into the building, from which a cry in Hebrew for help could be heard, the military said. The battalion commander ordered the forces to hold their fire. But the wounded hostage later reemerged, after which he was fatally shot, the military statement said.

The hostages may have escaped or had been abandoned by their captors, said an Israeli military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity under military protocol.

All three men killed — identified by the military as Yotam Haim, Alon Shamriz, and Samer Talalka — were kidnapped on Oct. 7 from two kibbutzim in southern Israel near the Gaza border.
“Let them free all the Palestinian prisoners we have here, all the terrorists — what do I care, ... The most important thing is not to defeat Hamas. The only victory here is to bring back all the hostages.”

Talalka’s monthslong captivity and sudden killing were like “a bad dream that I keep trying to wake up from,” Alaa Talalka, his cousin, said in an interview Saturday.

On Friday, the family was celebrating the birthday of Samer Talalka’s mother, a small point of light amid the crisis prompted by his abduction.

Then came the news he had been fatally shot by occupation forces in Gaza.

“He was so sociable and friendly; he loved to laugh and make people happy,” said Alaa Talalka, 37, a psychologist from the Arab town of Hura in the southern Negev desert. “I can’t fathom what’s happened.”
As Israelis mourned their deaths Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the news of their killing “broke my heart.” He added: “It broke the entire country’s heart. Our heart goes out to the families in their time of deep mourning.”

But he stressed: “At this difficult time, it is important for me to stand by our soldiers. They are giving their lives to achieve a crushing victory over our enemies and return our hostages. We are doing — and will do — everything to safeguard the lives of our soldiers, every one of them.”

IOF has come under widespread international criticism for what US President Joe Biden described last week as indiscriminate bombing. In 10 weeks of war, Israel has struck more than 22,000 targets in the Gaza Strip, a barrage that has killed thousands of civilians, prompting U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres last month to describe Gaza as a “graveyard for children.”

Palestinians and critics of how Israel has been fighting in Gaza have called Friday’s shootings a small example of the Israeli military’s disregard for civilians in Gaza.

“Under the laws of war, people are presumed to be civilians,” said Sari Bashi, program director at Human Rights Watch. “There needs to be strong information to suggest they are not before you can kill them.”
In this case, she said, “Nobody batted an eye before killing them.” She added that the investigation came only because the men were Israelis.
“A bad dream that I keep trying to wake up from,”
Akram Attaallah, a columnist for Al-Ayyam, a Palestinian newspaper in the West Bank, said that the episode was a “condemnation of the IOF” and showed that occupation forces were fighting the war with little regard for civilian life.

“Israel kills even those who surrender and raise the white flag,” said Attaallah, who is from Gaza.
Israel says it seeks to limit civilian casualties and places blame for the high death totals in Gaza on Hamas, which it says puts military installations in civilian areas as well as in schools, mosques, and hospitals.

The Israeli military has said that approximately 20 percent of Israeli soldiers who have died in the war have been killed by its forces in airstrikes, shelling, gunfire, and accidents, many because of mistaken identification. As of Saturday, 119 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza.

Yagil Levy, a civil-military relations expert at the Open University of Israel, described the 20 percent rate of so-called friendly-fire mistakes as “unprecedented” for the Israeli military.

“Israel kills even those who surrender and raise the white flag,”

Also killed in the war have been 135 staff members of the United Nations and 64 journalists and news media workers, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit organization based in New York.

Over the past week, the Israeli military has described intense urban warfare in Gaza; nine Israeli soldiers were killed Tuesday while trying to rescue wounded troops in Shejaiya, the same neighborhood of Gaza City where the three hostages were killed Friday.

Alongside the fighting, U.N. officials have described scenes of chaos, starvation, and utter despair in Gaza among the territory’s 2.2 million people, most of whom have been forced to flee their homes.

Philippe Lazzarini, who leads the U.N. agency charged with aiding Palestinians, traveled to Gaza last week. He described the strip as a “living hell.”

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