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3 Israeli hostages killed by IDF troops in ‘unbearable tragedy’ identified

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(GAZA) — The Israel Defense Forces said they mistakenly killed three hostages during combat this week in Shejaiya, Gaza, spokesman Daniel Hagari said during a press briefing Friday.

The three men killed have been identified as 28-year old Yotam Haim; 26-year old Alon Shamriz; and 22-year old Samer Talalka.

Haim is survived by his parents, brother and sister, the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum said. He was a gifted musician, an animal lover and loved to cook Italian food, the forum said. Haim, was kidnapped from Kibbutz Kfar Aza by the Hamas terrorist organization on Oct. 7, according to the IDF.

Shamriz lived in the Young Generation neighborhood of Kibbutz Kfar Aza, according to the forum. Shamriz was slated to study computer engineering at Sapir College, the forum said.

Talalka lived in Kfar Hora and worked with his father and brother in a hatchery near Kibbutz Nir Am. He is the eldest son out of 10 children. Talalka was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Am by the Hamas terrorist organization on Oct. 7.

On Saturday, the IDF said the three hostages were “mistakenly identified” as a threat.

The Israel Defense Forces released information regarding its preliminary investigation into the killing of hostages, saying that the incident took place in an area of “very intense fighting.”

The three hostages came out of a building — a few meters from the troops — without shirts, carrying a stick with white cloth, the IDF said. A soldier saw them as a threat and opened fire, killing two hostages instantly, according to an IDF spokesperson.

The third hostage was injured and ran back into the building where all three emerged from and someone cried “help” in Hebrew. At this point, the battalion commander ordered his troops to stop firing. But, despite the order, another burst was fired, killing the third hostage, according to an IDF spokesperson.

Their bodies were transferred to Israeli territory for examination, after which the three men were identified as Israeli hostages.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident an “unbearable tragedy.”

The IDF said that its war campaign in Gaza will press on despite the deaths of the three hostages by Israeli fire.

“We are going to continue with the mission here. And for us, there is no such luxury as to stop and think and pause and ponder after each event on the ground,” IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said on Friday.

And on “such a chaotic battlefield” Conricus said he can’t rule out something like this happening again.

“Combat in open terrain is one of the most challenging and dynamic environments known to man. So we cannot rule that out. And that is why we have also issued guidance to all of the troops on the ground,” Conricus said.

-ABC News’ Dana Savir and Anna Burd contributed to this report

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