Israeli military says it mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages in Gaza

An Israeli armoured personnel carrier (APC) manoeuvres, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, near the border with central Gaza, in Israel. File.
| Photo Credit: Reuters

The Israeli military says it has mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages during its ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

The Army’s chief spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, says Israeli troops found the hostages Friday and erroneously identified them as a threat. He said it was not clear if they had escaped their captors or been abandoned.

The deaths occurred in the Gaza City area of Shijaiyah, where troops have engaged in fierce battles against Hamas militants in recent days.

He said the Army expressed “deep sorrow” and was investigating.

U.S. and Israel discuss when to scale back Gaza combat

Meanwhile, the U.S. and Israel are discussing a timetable for scaling back intense combat operations in the war against Hamas, even though they agree the overall fight will take months, an envoy said amid growing American unease about the mounting death toll in Gaza.

The offensive, triggered by the unprecedented Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, has flattened much of northern Gaza and driven 80% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million from their homes. Displaced people have squeezed into shelters mainly in the south in a spiraling humanitarian crisis.

Israelis remain strongly supportive of the war and see it as necessary to prevent a repeat of Oct. 7, when Palestinian militants attacked communities across southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking some 240 hostage. A total of 116 soldiers have been killed in the ground offensive, which began Oct. 27.

Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy said militants have fired 12,500 rockets since Oct. 7, including more than 2,000 that fell short and landed in Gaza.

Israel’s air and ground assault over the past 10 weeks has killed more than 18,700 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. Thousands more are missing and feared dead beneath the rubble.

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