Three Israeli hostages were shot and killed by Israel Defense Forces troops on Friday during combat with Hamas in the Gaza district of Shijaiyah, the IDF said.
The three were “mistakenly” identified as a “threat,” an IDF spokesperson said on X at 1:17 p.m. ET on Friday. The grave mistake has since prompted an outpouring of anger and grief from Israelis.
Here is a timeline of the events that unfolded, starting with when the three hostages were taken.
Kidnapped by Hamas
The three killed on Friday were later identified as Alon Shamriz, Yotam Haim and Samer Talalka. They were all taken by Hamas on Oct. 7 at the start of the war, along with more than 200 other hostages.
Shamriz was abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7 from Gaza City, the IDF said.
According to the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum, Shamriz’s family lost contact with him at 10:02 a.m. on Oct. 7 after he called his older brother, Yonatan, who told him “that the family loves and supports him.”
Haim was kidnapped from Kibbutz Kfar Aza by Hamas on Oct. 7.
He spoke to his family on the day the war began and told them his house had burned down, according to a statement from the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum. He talked to his parents until 10:44 a.m. when he opened his window and was kidnapped by Hamas.
Talalka was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Am by Hamas on Oct. 7.
The eldest of 10 children, Talalka lived in the town of Hura and worked with his father and brothers at a chicken hatchery near the kibbutz, according to a statement from the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum.
He was at the chicken hatchery with his father on Oct. 7 and told his sister on the phone that he had been injured by Hamas gunfire. Then the call disconnected, the statement said.
Fled or abandoned
It is still unclear how the three hostages ended up in Shijaiyah. IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said at a press conference Friday that the three either “fled or were abandoned by terrorists who held them captive, and during the last few days, or this day, they reached the point they reached.”
“Intelligence that we hold — every day there is a situation assessment regarding both airstrikes and ground action — at the end of the day we estimate that they either managed to escape or were abandoned, and unfortunately the tragic results of the event ended in their deaths,” Hagari added.
Waving ‘white cloth’
The three hostages emerged near an IDF position during intense combat taking place between IDF soldiers and Hamas in Shijaiyah, an IDF official said Saturday.
“They were all without shirts, and they have a stick with a white cloth on it,” the official said.
A threatened IDF soldier opened fire at the group, immediately killing two of the hostages and injuring a third hostage who ran back into the building, the official said. A cry for help in Hebrew prompted a commander to issue a cease-fire, but the third hostage died after another round of gunfire, the official said. It is not clear if the third person died from the the second round of gunfire or if he succumbed to injuries from the first one.
The official noted that there was a building in the vicinity with the “markings of SOS” on it and said “we’re still looking to see if there’s a connection between that building and the hostages.”
“This was against our rules of engagement,” the official said. “I repeat, it was against our rules of engagement.”
Hagari in his press conference neglected to answer questions about whether IDF soldiers tried to identify the three hostages before firing, and whether the hostages raised their arms and shouted in Hebrew before being fired upon.
Suspicions emerge over ID of hostages
Hagari said IDF troops became suspicious about the identities of the three men who were killed.
The three bodies were transferred to Israeli territory for examination, at which point it was confirmed they were three Israeli hostages, Hagari said.
Hagari said the bodies were identified after they were then taken to the “Hatzvi” Center at the Shura Camp for additional examination.
The IDF and Israeli police then notified the families of the deceased.
IDF began investigating the incident ‘immediately’
The IDF began looking into the incident “immediately,” Hagari said.
“The IDF emphasizes that this is an active combat zone in which ongoing fighting over the last few days has occurred,” Hagari said. “Immediate lessons from the event have been learned, which have been passed on to all IDF troops in the field.”
Two of the killed hostages identified
The IDF first identified Haim and Talalka as two of the three killed on Friday.
Haim, who was 28 when he was killed, had “long ginger hair and beautiful blue eyes that you could get lost in,” according to a statement from the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum, adding that he was a “gifted musician” who played drums for 20 years. He was supposed to perform at a metal music festival in Tel Aviv on Oct. 7.
Talalka, 25 when he was killed, was an “avid motorcyclist who loved to ride around the countryside and spend time with friends,” according to a statement from the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum.
In the immediate aftermath, the third hostage’s family asked that his name not be broadcast.
Benny Gantz said his ‘heart is broken’
“My heart is broken upon hearing of the tragedy this evening. I want to hug the families — the whole nation of Israel is crying with you. I strengthen all the families of the abductees, as well as the soldiers who are deep in the territory and are carrying out a complex and important task of which we have not known since the establishment of the state,” Israeli war Cabinet minister Benny Gantz said Friday.
“The pain that accompanies the campaign, grows more in the face of the difficult event,” he continued. “Our responsibility is to win the war, and part of that victory will be to bring the abductees home. We will do everything to bring them back alive.”
Netanyahu in ‘deep sorrow’
“Together with the entire people of Israel, I bow my head in deep sorrow and mourn the fall of three of our dear sons who were kidnapped, among them Yotam Chaim and Samer Fouad al-Talalka,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday.
He called the incident “an unbearable tragedy,” adding “the entire state of Israel will mourn this evening.”
“I strengthen our brave warriors who penetrate the sacred mission of returning our abducted, even at the cost of their lives,” he continued. “Even on this difficult evening, we will bind up our wounds, learn the lessons and continue our utmost effort to return all our abductees home safely.”
Defense minister: ‘The mistake is painful for every Israeli’
“At this difficult time, my heart and thoughts are with the families of the three abductees who were accidentally killed by IDF fire in the Gaza Strip,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Friday. “These are difficult times, the mistake is painful for every Israeli, regardless of who he is, we must show patience, and continue to act for our abductees, our soldiers and our citizens.”
He said he spoke with the chief of staff to “learn about the circumstances of the tragic event and to ensure that lessons are learned immediately.”
The third killed hostage identified
The third deceased Israeli hostage was identified later on Friday as Alon Shamriz, the IDF said.
He was 26 when he was killed and lived in the Young Generation neighborhood of Kibbutz Kfar Aza, the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum said in a statement.
Shamriz was a “lover of life and a dedicated basketball fan,” according to the statement. He was also set to start his first year at Sapir College to study computer engineering.
Kirby warns against ‘broad judgment’White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said on Friday the incident was “heartbreaking” and “tragic,” adding “obviously, this is not an outcome that anybody wanted to see.”
“I think the Israelis will certainly take a look at this and I’m sure they will do the forensics and to try to figure out … how this happened,” Kirby said. “It’s certainly the way we would approach a situation like this … you want to know as many answers as we could.”
He then warned about making a “broad judgment about the specific circumstances here” and Israel’s ability to be more “precise” in its strikes on Gaza.
Protesters in Tel Aviv call for the release of rest of hostages
Protests erupted in Tel Aviv Friday night as news broke of the three hostages who were mistakenly killed by the IDF.
“Free the hostages! Now!” protesters shouted at the impromptu march on Friday.
Hundreds filled the street outside of Israel’s Defense Ministry as they called on the Israeli government to do more to bring the remaining hostages home.
“We’re asking our government to do more to bring them back — and safe,” Guy Anitz, 30, said. He said he largely blamed Hamas for the IDF’s accidental killing of three hostages.
Samer Talalka laid to rest Saturday morning
A funeral for Talalka was held in Hura on Saturday morning. Hundreds were in attendance.
Video showed mourners carrying Talalka’s body and lowering it into the grave before men placed soil over his body.
“The enemy is still gambling with the lives of its soldiers captured by the resistance, not caring about the feelings of their families,” Hamas official Abu Ubaida said Saturday.
“Yesterday, it deliberately executed three of them and the effect of killing them was to free them. This is the same blatant criminal behavior that it practiced and continues to practice against its captives in Gaza, in a desperate attempt to get rid of the burden. He knows this file and its entitlements well.”
IDF chief of the general staff called Friday’s incident ‘a difficult and painful event’
Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said Saturday the killing of three Israeli hostages was “a difficult and painful event.”
“The three hostages, who survived 70 days of hell, moved toward IDF soldiers and were killed by our forces’ fire. There is nothing that the IDF soldiers and their commanders in the Gaza Strip want more than to rescue the hostages alive. In this case, we were not successful,” Halevi said.
Halevi said he and the IDF are responsible for their deaths and they are working to prevent something similar from happening again.
“I think the three hostages did everything possible so that we would understand — they moved around shirtless so that we wouldn’t suspect them of carrying explosives and they held a white cloth, but the tension overcame all of the above,” Halevi continued, adding “the shooting at the hostages was against the rules of engagement” and that it is “forbidden to shoot at someone who raises a white flag and seeks to surrender.”
“However, this shooting was carried out during combat and under pressure,” Halevi said.
He said the IDF’s review of the incident is allowing it to learn from it and pass those lessons on to forces in combat, adding that it is the IDF’s duty to rescue hostages who have been abandoned or have escaped.
“In a single moment, the complexity of our justified war in Gaza has been demonstrated,” he said.