The Israeli army was on Saturday investigating the killing of three hostages, which it said had been mistakenly identified as a threat by soldiers—an incident that sparked protests in Tel Aviv.
The military said Yotam Haim, Alon Shamriz and Samer El-Talalqa were all in
their 20s—were shot during operations in Gaza City.
They were among about 250 people taken hostage during Hamas’s October 7
attacks in Israel, which killed around 1,140 people, mostly civilians,
according to Israeli figures.
Vowing to destroy Hamas and bring back the hostages, Israel launched a
massive military offensive against the Palestinian Islamist movement that has
left much of the Gaza Strip in ruins. The territory’s Hamas government says
The war has killed at least 18,800 people, mostly women and children.
Army spokesman Daniel Hagari said that during fighting in the Shejaiya
district of Gaza City, troops “mistakenly identified three Israeli hostages
as a threat and, as a result, fired toward them, and the hostages were killed.”.
The military said later it had started “reviewing the incident” and that
“immediate lessons from the event have been learned” and passed on to all
troops on the ground.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described their deaths as “unbearable
Hundreds of people are expected to gather Saturday in Tel Aviv to call on
Netanyahu’s government to secure the release of 129 hostages still held in
the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
“I am dying of fear,” said Merav Svirsky, sister of Hamas-held hostage Itay
Svirsky, at a protest on Friday evening. “We demand a deal now.”
– ‘He died hungry’ –
In November, a one-week truce saw more than 100 hostages freed in exchange
for Palestinians held in Israeli jails, but fighting has since resumed.
The hostages’ deaths have heightened already fierce scrutiny of how Israel is
conducting its ground and air assault in Gaza.
The White House, which provides billions of dollars in military aid to
Israel has voiced growing concern over mounting civilian deaths.
“I want them to be focused on how to save civilian lives, not stop going
after Hamas, but be more careful,” US President Joe Biden said this week.
News platform Axios said the director of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad,
David Barnea was due to meet this weekend in an unspecified location in
Europe with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
Axios said the officials would discuss resuming negotiations for a deal to
secure the release of the remaining hostages.
In Gaza, fierce fighting continued.
The Israeli army said Saturday it had raided two schools in Gaza City. It
said they were Hamas hiding places.
TV network Al Jazeera said Friday that one of its journalists, Samer Abu
Daqqa had been killed and another, Wael al-Dahdouh, had been wounded by “shrapnel
from an Israeli missile attack” in Khan Yunis.
“He died hungry; they died with nothing to eat, with hunger. Oh, my darling.”
said his grieving mother, Umm Maher.
More than 60 journalists and media staff have died since the war began.
according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“We were reporting, we were filming, we had finished and we were with the
civil defence, but when we were on the way back, they hit us with a missile.”
Dahdouh, who lost his wife, two children and grandchild earlier in the
Aid crossing opens –
In the face of growing international pressure, Israel announced a “temporary
measure” allowing aid to be delivered directly to Gaza through the Kerem
Shalom border crossing.
A World Health Organization representative said the decision was “very good
Since the war began, aid has trickled into Gaza through the Rafah crossing
Humanitarian agencies have said the volume is just a fraction of what is
needed to help the estimated 1.9 million Gazans displaced by the war.
Washington hopes the Palestinian Authority can resume control of Gaza as part of
of a renewed push for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict—a solution that Netanyahu has resolutely opposed.
The conflict has appeared to push any peace deal further out of view.
– Western rebuke –
Multiple Western governments issued a joint statement demanding that Israel
“take concrete steps to halt unprecedented violence by Israeli settlers” in
the West Bank.
More than 280 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers in
the West Bank since the war in Gaza erupted.
Israel’s police force said it had suspended several officers after they
severely assaulted a journalist for Turkish news agency Anadolu as he was
trying to take photos of Palestinians praying in annexed east Jerusalem.
And on Saturday eight Palestinians were arrested across the West Bank during
Israeli raids, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.
The war continues to be felt across the Middle East, with fears of a new
front opening on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and elsewhere.
Israeli air defences “intercepted a hostile aircraft that infiltrated from
Lebanon” after sirens in the northern town of Zarit, the army said, adding
that “another hostile aircraft was detected… and fell in Margaliot”.
It added that it was “attacking with artillery” in Lebanon, where it has
regularly exchanged fire with armed groups, mainly the powerful Iran-backed
The conflict has also spilled over into vital Red Sea shipping routes, where
on Saturday a UK destroyer brought down a suspected attack drone, defence
minister Grant Shapps said Saturday.
Global shipping lines Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd on Friday announced they were
halting voyages through the Red Sea following attacks on vessels by Yemeni
rebels allied with Hamas.
Yemen’s Huthi rebels struck a cargo ship in the Red Sea on Friday, causing a
fire on deck, the latest in a spate of near-daily attacks in the commercially
The rebels later said they fired missiles at two other ships in the Red Sea.