‘It’s Hamas’ fault, not yours’: Mother extends forgiveness and love to soldiers involved in accidental killing of son

‘I am Yotam’s mother. I wanted to tell you that I love you very much, and I hug you here from afar.’

By Meir Dolev, World Israel News

The mother of a hostage who was tragically killed last weekend by IDF soldiers after being mistaken for a terrorist, wrote a heartrending message of love and forgiveness to the soldiers involved.

Yotam Haim, 28, was among the three hostages – including Alon Shamriz and Samar Talalka – abducted by Hamas militants from Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7.The three were mistakenly shot dead by IDF troops on December 15, during an operation in which the soldiers misidentified them as a threat.

Iris Haim’s message to the soldiers of the Bislamach Brigade’s 17th Battalion was poignant and forgiving. “I am Yotam’s mother. I wanted to tell you that I love you very much, and I hug you here from afar,” she said.

She absolved the soldiers of blame, directing her anger towards Hamas instead. “I know that everything that happened is absolutely not your fault, and nobody’s fault except that of Hamas, may their name be and memory be wiped off the face of the earth,” Iris Haim continued.

“As soon as you are able to, you are invited to come to visit us, whoever wants to. We want to see you with our own eyes and hug you and tell you that what you did — however hard and sad it is to say this — it seemed to be the right thing in that moment.”

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The IDF has launched an investigation into the incident, uncovering new details. It was revealed that during an earlier clash between IDF troops and Hamas militants, one of the hostages was heard shouting for help, indicating their presence in the building. However, this crucial information was not acted upon in time.

Further, the 17th Battalion was not given a briefing by the the Kfir Brigade, which it was replacing, that there had been an SOS call in the form of a sign written in Hebrew using some kind of food and reading, “3 hostages. Help.” It appeared that soldiers from the Kfir Brigade believed it to be a ploy by Hamas to trap soldiers into entering the building.

The incident has sparked a broader conversation about the challenges and risks of military operations in densely populated areas and the need for stringent identification protocols to prevent such tragedies in the future.

The IDF has pledged to refine its operational procedures to prevent fatal errors in the future.