The Israel Defense Forces says it has mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages during a military ground operation in the Gaza Strip.
IDF spokesman Rear. Adm. Daniel Hagari said Friday that troops misidentified the hostages as a threat and it was unclear whether they'd escaped Hamas or were abandoned. The three abductees killed include Yotam Haim, who was kidnapped from Kfar Gaza during the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack, and Samer Talalka, who was kidnapped from Nir Am on the same day.
Family of the third victim killed have requested their name not be made public at this time. The age of all three victims also remains unknown.
Meanwhile, the news comes on the same day that the IDF said it had recovered the bodies of three different Israeli hostages that were abducted by Hamas. The bodies of 28-year-old Elia Toledano, 19-year-old Nik Beizer and 19-year-old Ron Sherman were reportedly discovered by special forces operating in Gaza and brought back to Israel.
Toledano, who had dual French-Israeli citizenship, was one of the many people abducted while attending a music festival in the southern part of the country, according to the Times of Israel. Beizer and Sherman, both Israeli soldiers, were taken on Oct. 7 from a military police station near the Gaza border.
"The IDF sends the families its heartfelt condolences and will continue to support them," the agency said in a statement. "Our national mission is to locate the missing and return all the hostages home."
Negotiations to free an estimated 130 victims still in Hamas custody have largely fallen flat after a cease-fire in November allowed for the return of 100 hostages. In exchange, hundreds of Palestinians were freed from Israeli prisons.
U.S. President Joe Biden reiterated his support for Israel Thursday, but voiced concern about the continued missile strikes in densely populated areas of Gaza.
"I want them to be focused on how to save civilian lives — not stop going after Hamas, but be more careful," President Biden said Thursday.
His comments come after the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in support of a cease-fire in Gaza. The U.S. was among 10 nations voting against the resolution.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with top Israeli leaders this week to discuss the next phase of the war — something they said wouldn't resolve things anytime soon.
"It will require a long period of time. It will last more than several months," Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told Sullivan. "But we will win, and we will destroy them."
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