The voices of three Israeli hostages who were accidentally killed by Israeli troops in Gaza were captured on a GoPro camera mounted on a military dog five days before they were shot, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Wednesday.
The video, located by the IDF on Tuesday, shows the recording took place during a military exchange between Israeli forces and Hamas militants at a site where the hostages were being held, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told a daily news briefing. The dog was killed in the exchange.
“You can hear voices, and when we analyzed the clip, we understood that in the audio we can hear the three hostages, fully vocally identified,” Hagari said.
He did not provide details about what the three hostages – Yotam Haim, Alon Shamriz and Samer Talalka – could be heard saying.
The militants who held the three men were killed during the fighting, which appears to have allowed the captives to flee, Hagari said, citing an initial IDF analysis of the GoPro video.
Israel is reeling from the IDF’s admission that it killed the hostages on Friday. The three men had been taken captured by Hamas during the group’s October 7 terror attack.
On Saturday, an IDF official said the trio had emerged from a building tens of meters away from a group of Israeli troops. They were shirtless and were waving a white flag, according to the official, who spoke to journalists on the condition of anonymity to speak freely about an ongoing investigation.
At least one soldier felt threatened and opened fire, killing two of the men immediately, the official said. The third was wounded and ran back inside the building. The Israeli unit overheard a cry for help in Hebrew, at which time the brigade commander ordered his troops to stop shooting. However, there was another burst of gunfire, according to the official. The third hostage died later.
The news has been met with mixed reactions from the families of the killed hostages, with some expressing fury and others forgiveness.
Avi Shimriz, father of slain 26-year-old hostage Alon, accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of cowardice in failing to call him or visit him to express his condolences.
Speaking to Israel’s Channel 13 News, Shimriz said: “The Prime Minister doesn’t dare to make a call – he hasn’t called – and he wouldn’t come here,” drawing a contrast with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who he said had called him twice.
He expressed deep frustration over learning that Israeli soldiers had managed to kill the Hamas fighters holding the three hostages and get so close to gathering intelligence that could possibly have saved them.
“It demonstrates how big the miss is […] There is a screw-up here, a serious one,” he said. “The shooter should not have opened fire, and if he is a proper fighter, he should have known that you only pull the trigger once you are certain it is a terrorist.”
Shimriz said commanders had failed to tell soldiers there could be hostages in the area and that photographs of the captives should have been circulated so soldiers might recognize them.
But he acknowledged that troops in the field faced difficult circumstances. “I cannot complain to our troops because they have encountered different situations where [Hamas] tried to ambush them and they suffered losses. I don’t want another such incident on my conscience,” he said.
Netanyahu did visit Wednesday with the mother of another of the slain hostages, Iris Haim, who lost her son Yotam in the same incident.
She sent a message to the unit involved in the shooting, saying: “Everything that happened is completely not your fault.”
In an audio message to the battalion, she said: “I wanted to tell you that I love you very much and I embrace you from afar. I know that everything that happened is completely not your fault, it’s nobody’s fault – except the Hamas, may their name and memory be wiped off the face of the Earth.”
Haim told the soldiers to stay safe, adding: “What you’re doing is the best possible thing in the world to help us, as the Jewish people, and we all need you to be safe and sound.”
“Don’t hesitate for a single moment – if you see a terrorist, don’t think that you have deliberately killed a hostage, you need to protect yourselves because that’s the only way you would be able to protect us,” she said, and invited the soldiers to visit her family.
“We want to see you with our own eyes and embrace you and tell you that what you have done – as painful as it is to say, and as sad as it is – was likely the right thing to do at that moment, and none of us are judging you or angry with you.”
The IDF has said the shooting was against its rules of engagement and that the soldiers involved would face disciplinary procedures.
The Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya, where the killings took place, has seen fierce fighting in recent days. The IDF says it has confronted ambush attempts and attacks that involved suicide bombers or assailants dressed in civilian clothes.
Before news of the three hostages’ deaths was announced, Israel had said Friday that they believe 132 captives remained in Gaza, of whom 112 were thought to still be alive.