newsIsrael at War

‘What happened is not your fault’

A mother reaches out to soldiers who mistakenly killed her son in the Gaza Strip.

Yotam Haim, one of three Israeli hostages mistakenly killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 15, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.
Yotam Haim, one of three Israeli hostages mistakenly killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 15, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.

Iris Haim on Wednesday told the Israeli soldiers who accidentally killed her son in the Gaza Strip on Oct. 15 that she doesn’t blame them for the tragedy.

“I wanted to tell you that I love you very much and I know that what happened is not your fault. It is the fault of no one except Hamas; may their names and memory be erased from the earth,” she said in an audio message that has been distributed on social media.

Her 28-year-old son, Yotam, along with Alon Shamriz and Samer Fouad Talalka, had escaped from a building where they were being held captive by Hamas terrorists. They were mistakenly shot and killed by Israeli forces, despite the fact that they were not wearing shirts and one of them was waving a white flag.

“Take care of yourselves, do not hesitate for a moment if you see a terrorist. You need to protect yourself, that’s the only way you can protect us, all the people of Israel,” Haim’s message continued.

She added that her husband and children were not judging the soldiers, and invited them to visit.

“You are welcome to come visit us; we all want to see you with our eyes and hug you, and say, as painful as it is sad, what you did was probably the right thing for that moment,” she said.

Hamas kidnapped Yotam from Kibbutz Kfar Aza near the Gaza border on October 7. According to Yotam’s brother, Tuval, the last communication the family received from him that day was a brief video clip capturing the darkness of his safe room and the chilling sound of gunshots outside.

“He wrote us that he loves us, and then the connection was abruptly cut off,” said Tuval.

Findings of the IDF probe

The Israel Defense Forces disclosed on Wednesday cries for help from the three hostages were recorded by a video camera worn by a military dog days before the tragic event.

A probe of the incident found that on Dec. 10, soldiers from a Golani Brigade reconnaissance unit had sent the dog into a building from which Hamas terrorists had fired on them.

According to Channel 12, Alon Shamriz, who served in the IDF as a member of the elite Yahalom engineering unit, saw the dog and knowing that it would be equipped with a camera, began yelling for assistance in Hebrew.

Golani forces in the area heard the cries but believed that Hamas terrorists were using a recording to lure them into an ambush, as had happened several times before, according to the report.

The troops eliminated the terrorists, unknowingly enabling Haim, Shamriz and Talalka to escape. The dog was shot and killed by terrorists.

The three were found by the soldiers five days later and mistaken for terrorists.

According to the probe, the camera, which did not have a real-time feed, was recovered on Dec. 18.

IDF investigators also reported that after their escape, the hostages had written on the walls of the building they hid in “SOS” and “3 hostages,” but that the Golani force believed this, too, was a Hamas ruse.

While a nearby force had been alerted that there could be hostages in the area, that intelligence was not communicated to the troops involved in the incident, according to Channel 12.

At least 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. The number of men, women, children, soldiers and foreigners still being held captive in Gaza by Hamas is now believed to be 129. Other people remain unaccounted for as Israeli authorities continue to identify bodies and search for human remains.

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