Deceased Gaza Hostages Held White Flag, Killed Against ‘Rules Of Engagement’: Official

Three Israeli captives killed by Israeli troops in Gaza by mistake were clutching a white flag, a military official said on Saturday, citing an early investigation into the incident that has rattled the country, news agency Reuters reported. According to the official, a soldier observed the hostages emerge tens of yards from Israeli soldiers on Friday in Shejaiya, an area of fierce battle in northern Gaza where Hamas terrorists operate in civilian garb and deploy deception techniques.

Speaking with media, the official stated: “They’re all without shirts and they have a stick with a white cloth on it. The soldier feels threatened and opens fire. He declares that they’re terrorists. They (the Israeli forces) open fire. Two (hostages) are killed immediately.”

According to the official, the third captive was injured and escaped inside a neighbouring building, where he begged for help in Hebrew.

“Immediately the battalion commander issues a ceasefire order, but again there’s another burst of fire towards the third figure and he also dies,” the official was quoted by Reuters in its report. “This was against our rules of engagement,” he added.

The three captives slain in Shejaiya, an eastern neighbourhood of Gaza City, were named as Yotam Haim and Alon Shamriz, seized from Kibbutz Kfar Aza, and Samer Al-Talalka, snatched from neighbouring Kibbutz Nir Am.

On October 7, Hamas militants attacked Israeli communities, murdering 1,200 people and seizing 240 captives. Israel subsequently conducted a counter-attack, killing up to 19,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials.

On Saturday, some 300 people attended Al-Talalka’s burial in his village of Hura, in southern Israel.

“We had so many hopes, expectations, that he would come back to us,” his cousin, Alaa Al-Talalka told Israel’s public broadcaster Kan.

“We’re not going to start pointing fingers, who is guilty and who is not. It is just not the time,” Al-Talalka said. “The families are thinking only of how to bring the hostages back alive. This is the time to ask for the war to end,” he said.