Israel Resuming Hostage Talks After Ugly Details Emerge Of 'Friendly Fire' Incident

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Dec 16, 2023 - 04:05 PM

Israel's Mossad spy agency director David Barnea has been dispatched back to Doha amid reports that the Netanyahu government is open to pursuing a second temporary truce and hostage deal

Axios describes it as "the first meeting between senior Israeli and Qatari officials since the collapse of the seven-day ceasefire that led to the expansion of the Israeli military operation to southern Gaza." Looming in the background is intensifying pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu in the wake of Friday's 'friendly fire' incident which killed three hostages who had been trying to escape Hamas captivity.

Image via EuroNews

Talks are "just a beginning" is is likely to be "long, difficult and complicated" - according to a source speaking to Axios. CIA director Bill Burns and Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel are also said to be part of efforts to revive talks. Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed to complete Gaza operations which have the aim of eradicating Hamas.

But already at a time that hostage and victim's families have led huge protests demanding more be done to secure the release of the over 100 captives that remain, both domestic and international pressure is at breaking point.

The new to emerge details made known by a preliminary military investigation are very ugly and will drive controversy against military and government decision-makers into overdrive. The three young men killed by IDF troop fire were shirtless, waving a white-flag and shouting in Hebrew when they were gunned down by Israeli forces. According to the Times of Israel based on military statements:

Three hostages shot dead by Israeli troops in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood Friday were shirtless, and one of them was carrying a stick with a makeshift white flag, the IDF said Saturday after an initial probe into the tragic incident.

Yotam Haim, Samar Talalka and Alon Lulu Shamriz managed to escape Hamas captivity before they were mistakenly shot dead by troops on Friday morning at around 10 a.m.

According to a senior officer in the Southern Command, citing an initial probe, the incident began after a soldier from Bislamach Brigade’s 17th Battalion stationed in a building identified three suspicious figures exiting a building several dozen meters away.

(L-R) Yotam Haim, Samar Talalka and Alon Lulu Shamriz

The details of what happened next get worse from there:

The soldier, who believed the men moving toward him was an attempt by Hamas to lure IDF soldiers into a trap, immediately opened fire and shouted "terrorists!" to the other forces.

According to the probe, that soldier killed two of the men, while the third man, who was hit and wounded, fled back into the building from which he came.

At that stage, the commander of the battalion, who was also in the multi-story building where the soldier had fired from, went outside and called on the forces to stop shooting.

Even at that point, the third hostage was still alive and began trying to communicate in Hebrew, something which would have been extremely unusual if it had been a Palestinian or Hamas fighter:

Meanwhile, sounds of someone — apparently the third hostage — shouting "Help" in Hebrew were heard by troops in the area.

Moments later, the third man came out of the building to which he had fled, and another soldier opened fire at him, killing him.

It was only in the aftermath that a battalion commander suspected the three men may have been Israeli captives, and their bodies were later positively identified in Israel.

The IDF immediately sent out new protocols to all its forces operating in the Gaza Strip, after apparently troops were not prepared for the possibility that hostages may be encountered on the battlefield.

"There is a possibility that hostages were abandoned or escaped, and forces should be aware of the possibility of such an encounter and pay attention to tell-tale signs, such as speaking in Hebrew, raising hands, and clothing," the new protocols state. Hamas has begun releasing gruesome videos (warning: disturbing and graphic) purporting to show Israel's aerial bombardment killing hostages held in locations on the ground.

The whole tragic and horrific episode suggests that at least in many cases, inexperienced infantry forces are essentially shooting at anything that moves in this intense urban warfare environment - also fearing the kind of surprise guerrilla ambushes Hamas has been known for.

Controversy and criticism raging over the IDF's tactics and strategy...

As for the potential for this incident to hasten negotiations along with the aim of securing freedom for more hostages, Hamas too says it is open. In the first truce which ended two weeks ago Hamas received hundreds of Palestinians from Israeli prisons. "We are open to discuss any arrangement or initiative that could end the (Israeli) aggression,” Haniyeh said in a televised speech on "Al-Aqsa TV" channel.

The prior truce reportedly wasn't extended and collapsed as Israel complained Hamas was seeking to separate children from their mothers, and that it was refusing to handover more women captives, as well as the youngest child - an infant.