Netanyahu says accidental hostage deaths ‘broke the whole nation’s heart’

In his first speech since it was announced that three Israeli hostages were killed in Gaza by Israeli forces, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deaths “broke the whole nation’s heart.”

Netanyahu said the news that the hostages were killed “shocked me” and that he is haunted by the thought of “what would have happened if only something had been different,” NBC News reported.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Friday that the three hostages killed were “mistakenly identified … as a threat.” Military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said it was not clear if the hostages had been abandoned by Hamas or if they had escaped.

The military later said the three men were shirtless and holding a white flag when they were shot. The IDF said it had seen cries for help written by the hostages but believed the attempts were a trap by Hamas.

In a statement, the military said it expressed “deep remorse over the tragic indecent and sends the families its heartfelt condolences.”

In his speech Saturday, Netanyahu said the military’s hopes remain high for the return of the remaining kidnapped hostages and “for achieving victory over our enemies.”

“We are more determined than ever to continue until the end – until we eliminate Hamas, until we return all our abductees, and until we ensure that in Gaza there is no longer any factor that educates terrorism, finances terrorism, and sends terrorism,” he said.

The three hostages killed were identified as Yotam Haim, Samer Talalka and Along Shamriz.

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