Father of 26-year-old hostage killed by Israeli forces rebukes Netanyahu

The father of one of the three Israeli hostages mistakenly killed by Israeli forces has an unambiguous message for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

“I’m going to say this [to] the government. You murdered my son twice,” Avi Shamriz told NBC News’ Hallie Jackson on Monday. “You let Hamas take my son on Oct. 7, and you killed my son on Dec. 14.”

Israeli military forces accidentally shot and killed Shamriz’s 26-year-old son, Alon, during intense fighting with Hamas militants on Friday, nearly 70 days after he was kidnapped.

The troops also mistakenly killed two other hostages, identified by the military as Yotam Haim and Samer Talalka.

Avi Shamriz, who spoke to NBC News from the Shefayim kibbutz, expressed contempt for Netanyahu’s government, which has come under fierce scrutiny for appearing to be caught off guard by the Hamas assault on Israel on Oct. 7. The attack killed more than 1,200 people.

A photo of Alon Shamriz at a table in "hostage square
A photo of Alon Shamriz at a table in “hostage square” in Tel Aviv on Dec. 16, 2023.Maja Hitij / Getty Images

“They cannot serve us,” Shamriz said of Netanyahu’s government. “They don’t deserve us, as a country, as a community. They are not our leaders. They are thinking only of themselves, on their chairs, on their salaries.” 

“They are not thinking about the hostages,” he added. “They are not thinking about us.”

In recent days, anger over the accidental killings has swelled. Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday, and many Israelis have pressed the government to renew negotiations with Hamas to secure the immediate release of the dozens of remaining hostages.

Israel’s prime minister expressed his condolences in a post on the social media platform X on Friday.

“The entire state of Israel will mourn this evening,” Netanyahu said in the post, adding that “this is a combat zone where there have been many incidents in recent days. Immediate lessons from the event are now being passed on to all the fighting forces in the field.”

Netanyahu has also drawn international condemnation for Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, where more than 19,400 people have been killed and more than 52,000 wounded since Oct. 7, according to Palestinian health authorities; 90% of the population has been displaced, according to the United Nations.

President Joe Biden, in remarks three days before the accidental killings, warned that Israel is losing support worldwide and suggested that Netanyahu needs to make changes to his government.

Alon Shamriz.
Alon Shamriz.Shamriz family via AP

The accidental killings happened in Shijaiyah, a Gaza neighborhood that is considered a Hamas stronghold. In the midst of combat, according to the Israel Defense Forces, troops “mistakenly identified three Israeli hostages as a threat.”

“The troops fired toward them and they were killed,” said Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the IDF’s chief spokesperson. He added that their bodies were transported to Israeli territory, where their identities were confirmed.

The Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum, which advocates for the hostages and their loved ones, released a statement Friday that said in part: “We share in the profound grief of the Shamriz family.”

Liat Bell Sommer, a spokesperson for the forum, said Shamriz was described by family and friends as a “lover of life” and a “dedicated basketball fan.” 

He had been accepted to study computer engineering at Sapir College, in the Negev desert, before he was taken from the Kzar Aza kibbutz.

Shamriz called his older brother Yonatan on Oct. 7, Sommer said. Yonatan told Alon that he was loved and supported by his family. They lost contact just after 10 a.m.