– Protesters push Netanyahu to resume hostage negotiation with Hamas
Mounting anger at the Israeli government spilled onto the streets of Tel Aviv Saturday after it emerged that the country’s military had mistakenly killed three hostages in Gaza who “had a stick with a white cloth on it.”
In a plaza in downtown Tel Aviv known as “Hostage Square,” Raz Ben Ami, who was released from captivity late last month, told a crowd of hundreds that she had “warned” the Israeli government that military operations in Gaza were putting hostages at risk and had “unfortunately” been proven right.
Emotions were raw a day after news broke that Yotam Haim, Samer Talalka and Alon Shamriz had been killed by soldiers from their own side.
Ben Ami, whose husband, Ohad Ben Ami, remains in captivity, told the crowd that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war Cabinet should present a proposal to free the dozens of people still held by Hamas.
Holding an hourglass, Ruby Chen, whose 19-year-old son Itay Chen is still being held hostage, said the government “needs to be active” in getting a new deal. He added that it was evident the current strategy wasn’t working very well.
‘He also dies’
The protest, which followed another demonstration on Friday night, erupted after an official from the Israel Defense Forces revealed Saturday that the hostages “had a stick with a white cloth on it” before they were killed.
The hostages were believed to have either “been abandoned or escaped” Hamas’ captivity, the official said, adding that a soldier felt threatened and opened fire.
“Two are killed immediately, one is injured and runs back into the building,” the official said. He added a that “cry for help” had been heard in Hebrew, but after the battalion commander issued a cease-fire order there was “another burst of fire,” and “he also dies.”
Around 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’ deadly attack on Oct. 7, and Israeli military officials say 116 soldiers have been killed during the country’s ground invasion in Gaza. The Israeli prime minister’s office estimated that around 115 of the roughly 240 people taken hostage by Hamas remain alive in the enclave after more than 100 were freed during a pause in fighting at the end of November.
Inside Gaza, more than 18,700 people have been killed, while around 90% of the population has been displaced, with many living in spiraling humanitarian conditions, according to estimates from the United Nations.
In a televised press conference a day after Israeli forces mistakenly killed three of more than 100 hostages held by Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to hint on Saturday that new negotiations were under way to recover the hostages.
The chief of Mossad intelligence met on Friday the prime minister of Qatar, a country mediating in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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