The Israeli military said Thursday that an internal investigation into an incident in which three Israeli hostages were shot dead by the Israeli army in Gaza City on December 15 found that “one of them was waving a flag white” in poor visibility before being hit by gunfire.
“On December 15, 2023, during intense days of fighting in Shejaiya, an IDF soldier shot three people, identified as threats, and hit two of the hostages who were killed. The third person fled,” the Israeli army said.
“The commanders gave the order to hold fire in order to identify the third figure. After about 15 minutes, the battalion commander heard shouts in Hebrew ‘help’ and ‘they are shooting at me,’ and gave additional orders to hold fire, calling in Hebrew ‘come towards us.'” The figure exited a building toward the forces. Two soldiers, who did not hear the order due to the noise of a nearby tank, shot and killed the third hostage,” the Israeli army continued.
“The investigation and analysis of the results and aerial images of the area revealed that the hostages were walking shirtless and that one of them was waving a white flag, standing in a place where visibility was limited compared to at the position of the soldier who fired the shot,” the Israeli army added.
The Israeli military said that in the days leading up to the incident, “a note with Hebrew writing ‘Help’ was found at the exit of a terrorist tunnel in the Shejaiya area” alongside a “identity card of a member of Hamas”. But the troops considered it an attempt by Hamas to lure them into an ambush.
Then, the day before the incident, “signs with the inscription ‘SOS’ and ‘Help, 3 hostages’ were identified by drone images on a building 200 meters from where the hostages were killed . “The areas that forces encountered in the Shejaiya area were scouted, so it was suspected of being a trap,” the Israeli military also said.
The Israeli military concluded that “the investigation revealed that the command’s ranks had information about the presence of hostages in the Shejaiya area and had even taken measures to prevent strikes on locations suspected of harboring hostages inside”, but “in this case there was no information about the presence of hostages in the Shejaiya area”. nor the building where the hostages were located.
“The entire chain of command feels responsible for this difficult event, regrets this outcome and shares the grief of the families of the three hostages,” the Israeli army said.
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