Israel exonerates troops who killed Israeli captives in Gaza

An invading Israeli soldier sits inside a military vehicle next to a plastic skeleton stolen from Gaza and brought to Israel, in southern Israel, on December 27, 2023. (Photo/Reuters)

Israeli soldiers ignored cries for "help" when they stormed a Gaza building holding three captives just days before killing them by "mistake," said a military investigation, while absolving the soldiers from any blame.

The soldiers also heard "hostages" shouted in Hebrew on December 10, but interpreted that as a "terrorist deception attempt" by Hamas fighters to lure them into the building in the Gaza City district of Shejaiya, said the probe published on Thursday.

Believing the building was rigged with explosives, the soldiers exited and killed five Hamas fighters trying to escape, it alleged.

The hostages then probably fled the building also, and on December 15 Israeli soldiers shot them after identifying them as a "threat," the investigation said.

Two were killed instantly. The third hostage fled and soldiers were ordered to hold fire in order to identify him, the probe said.

Hearing cries of "help!" and "they're shooting at me", Israeli commanders asked the surviving hostage to advance towards the soldiers. But two soldiers "who did not hear the order" because of "noise" from a nearby tank shot him dead.

The three hostages were all shirtless and one had been carrying a white flag.

The Israel military concluded "that there was no malice in the event, and the soldiers carried out the right action to the best of their understanding of the event at that moment."

On December 14, an army drone had identified signs of "SOS" and "help, three hostages" on a building close to where the three hostages were shot.

The army "failed in its mission to rescue the hostages in this event," army chief Herzi Halevi said in a statement published along with the report of the investigation. The three fatalities "could have been prevented", he added.

Netanyahu in hot water

Israel has been mourning the killings of the hostages identified as Yotam Haim, Alon Shamriz and Samer El-Talalqa.

The killings of the three men, all in their twenties, have sparked protests in Tel Aviv, where demonstrators demand that the authorities come up with a new plan to bring home the remaining 129 captives still held in besieged Gaza.

Relatives and families of the captives blame Netanyahu and his far-right government for the crisis and for not doing enough to return the captives.

Pressure has been mounting on Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, and his government to strike a deal to return the captives.

Israel's war on besieged Gaza has killed over 21,000 Palestinians; 8,800 are children, and 6,300 are women. About 55,603 others have been wounded while thousands are feared buried under debris of bombarded homes.


Source: TRT