President Herzog to honor three hostages mistakenly shot by IDF

Families of Alon Shamriz, Yotam Haim, and Samar Talalka to be awarded a certificate of appreciation to commemorate their escape and deaths in Gaza

(From L-R) Hostages Yotam Haim, Samar Talalka and Alon Lulu Shamriz, who were killed mistakenly by IDF troops in Gaza on December 15, 2023. (Courtesy)
(From L-R) Hostages Yotam Haim, Samar Talalka and Alon Lulu Shamriz, who were killed mistakenly by IDF troops in Gaza on December 15, 2023. (Courtesy)

President Isaac Herzog will conduct a ceremony to honor the bravery of three hostages who escaped from their Hamas captors only to be mistakenly killed by the IDF, he announced on Wednesday.

Alon Shamriz, Yotam Haim, and Samar Talalka went to great lengths to signal their identities to the IDF after escaping captivity in mid-December. Ultimately, they approached a group of soldiers in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood, but the soldiers fired as they came near, killing all three.

“In light of the extraordinary circumstances of the event, the president decided to honor the determination, fortitude, and special bravery they demonstrated and to award their families a unique certificate of appreciation in the name of the State of Israel,” Herzog’s office said in a statement on Wednesday.

The ceremony will be held at Herzog’s official residence in Jerusalem at a later date, the statement said.

An IDF probe was launched after the hostages were killed and found that they had been shirtless and one was carrying a stick with a white flag on the end. Soldiers who saw them exit a building misidentified them as terrorists trying to lure the troops into a trap and opened fire, killing two of them. The third man ran back into the building but was shot and killed by a soldier when he ran back out of it after calling “help!” in Hebrew.

The investigation also revealed that a few days prior to the incident, in what was initially thought to be unrelated to the deadly mistaken shooting, the senior officer said that several hundred meters away troops found a building with spray paint on the wall reading “SOS” in English and another sign reading “Help, three hostages” in Hebrew.

President Isaac Herzog speaks at an event at the President’s Residence honoring IDF soldiers killed in the war against Hamas in Gaza, in Jerusalem, January 28, 2024. (Screenshot: X; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Haim, 28, was a drummer for the heavy metal band Persephore. He was last seen in a video he took on the morning of October 7, showing himself in the front door of his Kfar Aza home, before he was abducted to Gaza.

Talalka, 22, from Hura, was working in the Kibbutz Nir Am hatchery, where he often did weekend shifts, when Hamas terrorists stormed the kibbutz.

Shamriz, 26, a computer engineering student, was abducted from his Kibbutz Kfar Aza home.

The three men were among 253 hostages taken by Hamas on October 7 when the terrorist organization launched an unprecedented attack on Israel’s south, killing some 1,200 people, most of whom were civilians.

It is believed that 130 hostages remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November. Four hostages were released prior to that, and three were rescued by troops. The bodies of eight hostages have also been recovered. One more person has been listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown.

Most Popular
read more: