‘What happened is not your fault’

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

By Sveta Listratov | | Topics: Gaza, Hamas
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 which 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 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 that cries for help from the three hostages were recorded by a video camera worn by a military dog prior to the tragic event.

A probe of the incident found that on Dec. 10, soldiers from a Golani Brigade reconnaissance unit had sent the dog equipped with recording equipment into a building from which Hamas terrorists had fired on them. The terrorists killed the dog, and later that day the Golani force eliminated the terrorists, enabling Haim, Shamriz and Talalka to escape.

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

According to the probe, the dog’s recording equipment captured the hostages’ cries for help, but was not monitored in real time and was only recovered on Dec. 18.

IDF investigators also reported that the hostages had written on the walls of the building “SOS” and “3 hostages,” but that the Golani force believed it was a Hamas ruse.

The soldiers had not been given instructions regarding what to do if they encountered hostages on the battlefield, and there was apparently no intelligence regarding captives in the vicinity.

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 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.