A tragic mistake
Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has issued a public apology for the death of 12 Israeli hostages who were killed by friendly fire during a failed rescue attempt in Gaza on Friday. The hostages were among the 248 Israelis who were abducted by Hamas terrorists during a massive attack on southern Israel on October 7, 2023. The attack, which was the deadliest in Israel’s history, claimed the lives of more than 1,300 Israelis, mostly civilians, and injured over 3,000 others.
Gallant said that the rescue operation was launched after receiving credible intelligence that the hostages were being held in a Hamas compound in Khan Yunis. He said that the operation involved elite commando units, air support, and coordination with the Egyptian authorities. However, he admitted that the operation went wrong due to a series of errors and miscommunications.
According to Gallant, the commandos encountered heavy resistance from the Hamas militants, who used the hostages as human shields. He said that the commandos tried to avoid harming the hostages, but in the heat of the battle, some of them were accidentally shot by Israeli fire. He also said that some of the hostages were killed by Hamas explosives that were detonated during the exchange of fire.
Gallant expressed his deep sorrow and regret for the loss of innocent lives, and offered his condolences to the families of the victims. He said that the operation was not intended to harm the hostages, but to save them from the clutches of Hamas. He said that the IDF would conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, and hold accountable anyone who was responsible for the mistakes.
A national outrage
The news of the hostage deaths has sparked a wave of anger and grief across Israel, especially among the families and friends of the victims. Many of them have accused the government and the military of incompetence, negligence, and recklessness. They have demanded justice and accountability for the tragedy, and called for the resignation of Gallant and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
Some of the families have also criticized the media for not giving enough attention and coverage to the plight of the hostages, and for focusing more on the military and political aspects of the conflict. They have said that the hostages were forgotten and abandoned by the state, and that their lives were not valued or respected.
One of the victims was Lior Asulin, a former soccer player who was kidnapped while attending a music festival near the Re’im kibbutz. His wife, Shira, said that she was devastated by the news of his death, and that she felt betrayed by the authorities. She said that she had hoped and prayed for his safe return, but instead received a call from the IDF informing her that he was killed by Israeli fire. She said that she did not understand how such a mistake could happen, and that she wanted to know the truth about what happened.
Another victim was Vivian Silver, a peace activist and a former board member of the human rights organization B’Tselem. She was abducted from the Be’eri kibbutz, where she lived with her husband and children. Her husband, Eric, said that he was shocked and outraged by the news of her death, and that he blamed the government and the military for their failure to protect the civilians. He said that his wife was a passionate advocate for peace and justice, and that she did not deserve to die in such a cruel and senseless way.
A diplomatic crisis
The hostage deaths have also caused a diplomatic crisis for Israel, as some of the victims were foreign nationals from countries that are allies or partners of Israel. Among them were three Americans, two Canadians, one British, one French, one German, one Italian, one Japanese, and one Australian. Their governments have expressed their condolences and solidarity with Israel, but also their concern and dismay over the incident.
The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he was saddened and disturbed by the news of the hostage deaths, and that he expected a full and transparent investigation from Israel. He said that the US was a staunch supporter of Israel’s right to defend itself, but also a friend who cared about the well-being of its people. He said that the US would continue to work with Israel and other partners to end the conflict and restore calm and stability in the region.
The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he was appalled and heartbroken by the news of the hostage deaths, and that he condemned the violence and terrorism perpetrated by Hamas. He said that Canada stood with Israel in its fight against terror, but also urged it to exercise restraint and respect for human rights. He said that Canada would provide assistance and support to the families of the Canadian victims, and to the efforts to achieve a lasting peace.
The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he was shocked and saddened by the news of the hostage deaths, and that he extended his deepest sympathies to the families of the victims. He said that the UK was a close friend and ally of Israel, but also a partner who expected it to act with responsibility and accountability. He said that the UK would continue to work with Israel and other international actors to end the cycle of violence and bring about a negotiated solution.
A humanitarian disaster
The hostage deaths have also added to the humanitarian disaster that has been unfolding in Gaza since the outbreak of the war. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, over 17,700 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire, the majority of whom were women and children. Over 100,000 have been injured, and over 500,000 have been displaced from their homes. The UN has warned that Gaza is facing a severe shortage of food, water, medicine, and electricity, and that the situation is deteriorating by the day.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and for the resumption of dialogue and negotiations. He has said that the war is a tragedy for both peoples, and that it must end before it causes more suffering and destruction. He has said that the UN is doing everything in its power to provide humanitarian aid and relief to the civilians in Gaza, and to facilitate the delivery of essential supplies and services.
The UN has also condemned the atrocities committed by Hamas against the Israeli hostages, and the violations of international humanitarian law and human rights by both sides. It has said that the hostages were subjected to torture, abuse, and execution by the Hamas militants, and that some of them were used as human shields or booby traps. It has said that the perpetrators of these crimes must be held accountable, and that the victims must be treated with dignity and respect.