The Israeli military on Friday mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages during its ground operation in the Gaza Strip, military officials said.
The army’s chief spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said Israeli troops found the hostages 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.
US Officials to Meet with Palestinian President to Discuss Postwar Gaza
Meanwhile, the Palestinian president was set to meet Friday with U.S. officials to discuss postwar arrangements for Gaza that could include reactivating Palestinian security forces driven out by Hamas in its 2007 takeover of the territory.
Role of Palestinian Security Forces
Any role for Palestinian security forces in Gaza is bound to elicit strong opposition from Israel, which seeks to maintain an open-ended security presence there. The Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank but is deeply unpopular with Palestinians.
While Israel has vowed to keep fighting until it wipes out Gaza’s Hamas rulers, the international call for a cease-fire has grown in volume. Israel has drawn international outrage and rare criticism from the U.S. — its main ally — over the killing of civilians.
Gaza Death Toll Grows
More than 18,700 Palestinians have been killed since Israel declared war on Hamas, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza, which does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths. Israel says 116 of its soldiers have died in its ground offensive after Hamas raided southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and taking about 240 hostages.