The Israeli military mistakenly killed three hostages being held in Gaza by Hamas during an incident which is “under review”, a military spokesperson said on Friday.
The military said the hostages were killed during combat with militants in Gaza and expressed its condolences to the families while saying there would be “full transparency” in the investigation into the incident.
A statement from the military said that during an intense battle in Gaza it “identified three Israeli hostages as a threat”. “As a result, the troops fired toward them and they were killed.”
In recent days Israel has engaged in intense battles with Hamas militants, who often wear casual civilian clothing, and on Wednesday announced its worst combat losses with 10 soldiers killed in 24 hours.
Hamas rampaged through Israeli towns killing 1,200 people and capturing 240 hostages on Oct. 7. Israel then launched a counter-attack, during which Gaza health authorities say close to 19,000 people have been confirmed killed, with thousands more feared buried under rubble.
During a week-long truce in late November, Hamas released more than 100 women, children and foreigners it was holding in Gaza in exchange for the release of 240 women and teenagers imprisoned by Israel, many without charge.
“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,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “My heart goes out to the grieving families in their difficult time.”
More than 100 hostages still remain in Gaza. Some have been declared dead in absentia by Israeli authorities.
Earlier on Friday, the Israeli military said it had recovered the bodies of three Israelis – a civilian and two soldiers – who had been held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas. — Reuters