Soldier from battalion that mistakenly shot hostages meets mom of one of those killed

Call on Yotam Haim’s family comes after message of support; brother of killed hostage Alon Shamriz says he told Gallant ‘I’ll haunt him’; troops shown pics of hostages to help ID them

Iris Haim (R) whose son Yotam Haim was mistakenly killed by Israeli troops, meets with a soldier from the battalion involved in the shooting, December 22, 2023 (Screen grab used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Iris Haim (R) whose son Yotam Haim was mistakenly killed by Israeli troops, meets with a soldier from the battalion involved in the shooting, December 22, 2023 (Screen grab used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

An Israeli soldier from the battalion that mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages last week in Gaza, visited the mother of one of the hostages after she sent the troops a message saying that she does not blame the military for the tragic incident.

Public broadcaster Kan reported Thursday that the unnamed soldier, from the Bislamach Brigade’s 17th Battalion, paid a visit to Iris Haim, whose son Yotam Haim was shot dead together with two other hostages, Alon Shamriz and Samar Talalka, by IDF troops who mistakenly identified them as a threat on December 15. The incident is still under IDF investigation.

Yotam Haim, 28, was abducted by Hamas terrorists from Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7 during the terror group’s shock onslaught in southern Israel when 1,200 were killed, mostly civilians, and some 240 were taken hostage.

The soldier’s visit on Thursday came after Iris Haim recorded a message a day earlier for the soldiers who killed her son, telling them that she and her family love them and do not blame them for his death.

“We received your message, and since then we have been able to function again,” the soldier told Iris Haim, according to Kan. “Before that we had shut down.”

“Amazing, that’s what I wanted,” she responded, according to the report, offering more moral support if needed.

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

In her recorded message on Wednesday to the soldiers, Haim said: “I am Yotam’s mother. I wanted to tell you that I love you very much, and I hug you here from afar. I know that everything that happened is absolutely not your fault, and nobody’s fault except that of Hamas, may their name be wiped out and their memory erased from the earth.”

“I want you to look after yourselves and to think all the time that you are doing the best thing in the world, the best thing that could happen, that could help us. Because all the people of Israel and all of us need you healthy,” Haim said.

“And don’t hesitate for a second if you see a terrorist,” she urged. “Don’t think that you killed a hostage deliberately. You have to look after yourselves because only that way can you look after us.”

“At the first opportunity,” Haim continued, “you are invited to come to us, whoever wants to. And we want to see you with our own eyes and hug you and tell you that what you did — however hard it is to say this, and sad — it was apparently the right thing in that moment.

“And nobody’s going to judge you or be angry. Not me, and not my husband Raviv. Not my daughter Noya. And not Yotam, may his memory be blessed. And not Tuval, Yotam’s brother. We love you very much. And that is all,” she concluded.

Yotam Haim, left, and his mother, Iris Haim. Yotam was taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 to Gaza. (Courtesy)

A military investigation into the accidental killing of the three escaped hostages found that one of them was recorded days earlier shouting for help during a gun battle between troops and Hamas terrorists at a site where they were being held.

The new details from the probe, released by the IDF on Wednesday, were the latest indication of how far hostages Shamriz, Haim and Talalka went to signal their identities to the IDF after they managed to escape captivity. Ultimately, they approached a group of soldiers, seeking to be rescued in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood last Friday, but the soldiers fired as they came near, killing all three.

In an effort to prevent such a tragedy from recurring, IDF soldiers were shown photos of hostages remaining in Gaza, in the hopes that they can more easily identify them if needed, according to a Channel 13 report Thursday.

This photo released by the Israel Defense Forces on December 17, 2023, shows signs reading ‘SOS’ and ‘Help, 3 hostages,’ that were put up in Gaza by three Israeli hostages who were later mistakenly killed by IDF troops. (Israel Defense Forces)

It is believed that 129 hostages remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November.

Shamriz’s brother, Yonatan, appeared on Channel 12’s Uvda investigative program on Thursday, recalling a tough conversation with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant after the family was informed of the mistaken killing.

“I told him I’d hunt after him until he is in the ground — him and everyone sitting over there. That they won’t have any rest. [I told him] that they’re responsible for what happened. I told him that I wouldn’t rest and would haunt him in his sleep, that when he falls asleep, he’ll see a photo of my brother,” Yonatan Shamriz said in the interview.

“I was sure that the Shin Bet would come and arrest me within half an hour,” he added.

Yonatan Shamriz is interviewed on Channel 12’s Uvda investigative program on December 21, 2023. (Screen capture/Channel 12)

Yonatan said the conversation ended with him swearing at Gallant, whom he credited for listening and not pushing back.

Asked if he’s worried that his anger might consume him, Yonatan responded, “I don’t have anything left to consume.”

“I have a family that has been destroyed. There were so many things we planned to do together that we’ll no longer be able to do, and I have a heroic brother who is now… resting.

“And I have to ensure that this wasn’t for nothing. Not October 7 and not his death,” he said.

“Those who were responsible and abandoned us cannot be part of the country anymore. I have a mission now… to get rid of everyone [in charge], and start over with something new,” Yonatan said.

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