The three Israeli hostages who escaped Hamas only to be mistakenly killed by the IDF were stripped to the waist and waving a white flag at the time, according to a new report.
Yotam Haim, Samer Talalka, and Alon Shamriz were all shirtless when an Israel Defense Forces soldier stationed in a building in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City noticed them exiting a nearby structure, the Times of Israel reported, citing the IDF’s initial probe.
One of the men – all of whom were kidnapped by Hamas from southern Israel on Oct. 7 – was also holding a makeshift white flag, a senior officer in the Southern Command told the outlet.
The IDF soldier, however, believed the men were trying to lure him into a trap, and opened fire while shouting “terrorists!” to the other forces, the report found.
Two of the hostages were killed immediately, while the third was wounded and fled back into the building they came out of, the Times of Israel explained.
The commander of the battalion then went outside the building the soldiers shot from, and called for the troops to hold their fire.
Around that time, troops in the area could hear someone shouting for “help” in Hebrew, the report claimed.
The third hostage then emerged again from the building, prompting a soldier to open fire and kill him.
It was only after the third man had been killed that the battalion commander noticed his appearance was unusual, according to the Times of Israel.
All three bodies were taken to Israel for identification.
The soldier who opened fire immediately after seeing the three men was acting against protocols — as was the second soldier who killed the third hostage, the senior officer who spoke to the Times of Israel said.
But the scenario of hostages walking around a battle area was not taken into account by the IDF, the Times of Israel noted.
IDF troops have killed at least 38 terrorists in Shejaiya over the past few days and have not identified any Gazan civilians, the officer told the outlet.
The only individuals seen in civilian clothing have been Hamas operatives — who then collect abandoned weapons, and use them to fire at IDF soldiers before fleeing, the report said.
The IDF had also run across several unarmed civilians who were actually Hamas suicide bombers, the Times of Israel added.
On Wednesday, troops in Shejaiya found a building with spray paint on the wall that read “SOS” in English alongside a Hebrew message that said “Help, three hostages,” the senior officer said.
The soldiers initially thought the building was booby-trapped, but the military is now questioning whether the discovery was connected to Friday’s mistaken shooting.
Immediately after the three hostages were killed, the IDF relayed new protocols for troops about the possibility of additional hostages who fled captivity.
The results of the initial investigation into the shooting have been presenting to the families of Haim, Talalka, and Shamriz, the Times of Israel said.
Haim, 28, and Shamriz, 26, were abducted from Kibbutz Kfar Aza during Hamas’ terror attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7.
Talalka, who was in his early 20s, was taken from Kibbutz Nir Am.
The content of the IDF’s initial report emerged as news broke that Mossad chief David Barnea met with the Qatari PM to discuss a potential new hostage deal, according to the Walla news outlet.
The talks, however, are “just a beginning” of a “long, difficult and complicated” process, a source told the Walla site.
Qatar played a major role in the first temporary ceasefire deal, which saw the release of 105 civilian hostages over a week’s time.
The Israeli war cabinet is also set to meet later Saturday evening, the Times of Israel said, citing a Hebrew media report.
Also on Saturday, the New York Times revealed that Israel was aware of Hamas’ financial capacity in 2018 – but did nothing to stem the flow of cash to the terror group.
Documents found on the computer of a senior Hamas official revealed a private equity fund worth hundreds of millions of dollars – with some sources saying up to $500 million, the outlet reported.
“Everyone is talking about failures of intelligence on Oct. 7, but no one is talking about the failure to stop the money,” Udi Levy, a former chief of Mossad’s economic warfare division, told the New York Times.
Levy insisted that he told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Hamas’ finances in 2015, but was dismissed.
“I can tell you for sure that I talked to him about this. But he didn’t care that much about it,” he claimed.
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