By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has said the accidental killings of the three Israeli hostages by Israeli troops, the IDF on Friday “broke my heart, broke the entire nation’s heart.”
In a televised conference on Saturday, Netanyahu called the war between Israel and Hamas an existential war that must be fought until victory.
He said despite pressure and costs, his country will not retreat, adding that Gaza would be demilitarized and under Israeli security control.
“We are as committed as ever to continue until the end, until we dismantle Hamas, until we return all our hostages,” he said.
Netanyahu said the offensive in Gaza had helped secure a partial hostage-release deal in November.
“The instruction I am giving the negotiating team is predicated on this pressure, without which we have nothing,” he said.
A senior Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, said there will be no further hostage releases until the war ends and Israel accepts the militant group’s conditions for an exchange.
Netanyahu however vowed that Israel would never agree to such demands.
Several hundred families, friends and supporters of Israeli hostages held by Hamas militants in Gaza rallied Saturday in Tel Aviv at the “Hostages Plaza,” where they called on Israeli government to negotiate the remaining hostages’ release.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Israeli troops erroneously identified the hostages as a threat and fired on them Friday as they were coming out of a building waving a white flag to show that they were posing no threat.
He said it was not clear whether the hostages had escaped their captors or had been abandoned.
Their deaths occurred in Gaza’s Sheijaia district, the scene of bloody battles between Israel’s military and Hamas militants. Hagari said the army expressed “deep sorrow” and is investigating.
After the first two hostages were shot, the third young man ran back into the building screaming for help in Hebrew.
The commander issued an order to cease fire, but another burst of gunfire killed the third man, an Israeli military official said.