IDF mistook shirtless hostages for Hamas trap, opened fire

The escaped hostages were shirtless, waving makeshift white flags, and one yelled “help” in Hebrew.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

When three escaped hostages approached IDF soldiers in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood Friday, they were shirtless and waving makeshift white flags, but the soldiers thought they were a Hamas trap, according to the IDF.

After days of heavy fighting in Shejaiya, including an incident on Wednesday in which nine soldiers including two commanders were killed, troops had seen very few civilians, the soldiers believed the three hostages were terrorists trying to trick them.

The incident began when a soldier from Bislamach Brigade’s 17th Battalion alerted commanders to three suspicious figures exiting a building.

They were shirtless and holding sticks with white fabric attached to them in an attempt to create a surrender flag.

Believing they were Hamas terrorists in disguise, the soldier yelled “terrorists” and shot two of the men while the third fled back to the building.

The commander of the brigade told the soldiers to stop shooting, while the third hostage yelled “help” in Hebrew.

When he came out of the building, he was shot and killed by another soldier.

The IDF stated that both the soldier who killed the two terrorist and the one who shot the third were acting against protocol.

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However, the IDF also acknowledged that the conditions in which they were fighting—including a lack of civilians in the area and having no expectation of encountering escaped hostages, contributed to the situation that caused the tragic error.

The IDF has issued new protocols given the possibility of hostages escaping captivity, especially since the IDF has managed to destabilize Hamas control in the region.

The new protocols read, “There is a possibility that hostages were abandoned or escaped, and forces should be aware of the possibility of such an encounter and pay attention to tell-tale signs, such as speaking in Hebrew, raising hands, and clothing.”

The identity of the three hostages accidentally killed by IDF soldiers, are: Yotam Haim, Samar Talalka and Alon Lulu Shamriz.