Israeli hostages were holding white cloth when IDF shot them, army says

Three Israeli hostages mistakenly killed by Israeli soldiers in Gaza were shot dead while holding a white cloth, an Israeli military official says.

The official said the case was “against our rules of engagement” and an investigation was happening at the “highest level”.

The hostages – Yotam Haim, 28, Samer Talalka, 22, and Alon Shamriz, 26 – were killed in Shejaiya on Friday.

Israeli troops have been facing stiff resistance in the area near Gaza City.

The official said “forces were under pressure” as fighters were using “a lot of deception”.

The hostages emerged from a building shirtless and carrying a stick with a white cloth, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that one of the Israeli soldiers felt threatened, “declare[d] they’re terrorists” and opened fire.

The captives had either been abandoned or escaped, the official said.Two of the hostages were killed on the spot while a third, wounded, returned to the building.

“A cry for help was heard in Hebrew. And, immediately, the battalion commander issued a ceasefire order,” the official said.

Later, the third hostage emerged and was killed.The incident is likely to renew calls from the families for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to engage in negotiations with Hamas for some of the remaining hostages held in Gaza – more than 100 people – to be freed.

Meanwhile a freed Thai hostage who was held with the three men recalled his time with them.

Wichian Temthong, 37, said he was “very shocked” and “saddened” to learn of the deaths of the men he spent nearly 50 days in captivity with.

He said they had no common language so they used hand signals to communicate and give each other moral support.

The BBC’s Thanyarat Doksone in Bangkok contributed to this article

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