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Israeli military mistakenly kills 3 hostages in Gaza

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The three Israeli hostages mistakenly killed by the Israeli forces were shirtless and holding a white flag when they were shot, a military official said Saturday, according to multiple reports.

Though, an initial investigation into the unfortunate incident by the Israeli military revealed that the soldiers violated the rules of engagement by firing on the group.

According to a senior Israeli military official, a single Israeli soldier opened fire on the three hostages when they left a building near an Israeli base and started walking towards the base.

The soldier believed the hostages proved a threat and opened fire on them, killing two instantly and forcing the third to scamper for safety into the building, according to the official.

“They’re all without shirts and they have a stick with a white cloth on it,” the official said, according to Reuters. “The soldier feels threatened and opens fire. He declares that they’re terrorists, they (forces) open fire, two are killed immediately.”

The third hostage then called for help in Hebrew, causing the soldiers to believe the man was a Hamas militant luring the them into a trap, the official said. The soldiers then entered the building and eliminated the hostage.

“This was against our rules of engagement,” The official said.

Markings on the men’s bodies raised suspicions that they may be Israeli, the official said, and they were later transported to Israel and confirmed to be among the hostages held by Hamas.

Meanwhile, two days earlier, soldiers noted a building in the area with the writing “SOS” and “help, three hostages” written on the outside walls, Haaretz reported. The Israeli military believed the building could be a trap.

In an announcement Friday, the Israeli military said its forces believed that the hostages were “mistakenly identified… a threat” when they were shot and killed.

“The IDF expresses deep remorse over the tragic incident and sends the families its heartfelt condolences,” the military said. “Our national mission is to locate the missing and return all the hostages home.”

The hostages were identified as Yotam Haim, Samer Talalka and Alon Shamriz.

The hostages’ killings sparked a wave of protests in Israel. Hundreds took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Friday to protest the Israeli government over its military operations in Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced increasing opposition from both in Israel and abroad over his response to the Oct. 7 attacks, which sparked the war.

Netanyahu called the incident an “unbearable tragedy.”

“Together with the entire people of Israel, I bow my head in deep sorrow and mourn the death of three of our dear sons who were kidnapped,” he said. “My heart goes out to the grieving families in their difficult time.”

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