Hunting For Hamas Leaders Now Morphs Into Killing Three Hamas-Held Israeli Hostages In Gaza

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Gaza Hamas Tunnel
Image by IDF Press Office

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When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to Israeli Defense soldiers, ‘We are continuing until victory,’ after Israeli soldiers killed three Hamas-held Israeli hostages fleeing their captors, it is no wonder Israelis are angry.

Netanyahu said on Saturday the killings “struck me hard.” But, he added, “We are more determined than ever to continue to the end – until we eliminate Hamas, return all of our hostages.”

Protests started on Friday and continued on Saturday with larger protests in Tel Aviv. Israelis are furious for the inaction of a new prisoner swap two weeks after a brief cease-fire ended and now, even angrier that three Israeli hostages were fatally shot. 

The Israel Defense Forces revealed that the three hostages emerged shirtless from a building in the Shejaiya neighborhood of northern Gaza and held up a makeshift white flag to signify surrender, and that one shouted “help” in Hebrew before they were shot. 

The men were identified as Yotam Haim, 28, Alon Shamriz, 26, and Samer Talalka, 25. All were kidnapped from kibbutzim in southern Israel near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. The Times of Israel reported that the three were trying to escape their captors when they were killed. 

Herzi Halevi, the IDF chief of staff, said he accepted responsibility for the deaths and promised “we will do everything” to prevent future incidents. 

“The shooting at the hostages was against the rules of engagement. It is forbidden to shoot at someone who raises a white flag and seeks to surrender,” Halevi said in a statement on Saturday. “However, this shooting was carried out during combat and under pressure.”

Israel and Hamas ended a week-long cease-fire early in December that included daily exchanges of hostages taken by Hamas in the October attack for prisoners held in Israeli jails. 

In a statement late Friday, Netanyahu expressed “deep sorrow” for the deaths, saying Israel would “learn the lessons and continue with a supreme effort” to return the abductees to safety.  

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