Israel-Hamas War IX: Proudest Moment
It could have turned into a blame-fest. It could have been exploited by the media as another stick with which to beat up our leadership. It could have unbalanced the delicate domestic equilibrium we are working hard to maintain since Oct 7th. That it did none of these things makes me proud.
I am talking about the moment the report came out that an IDF unit operating in Gaza killed three escaped hostages –Yotam Haim, Samar Talalka, and Alon Shamriz — thinking they were Hamas terrorists.
Not only did voices in the media, the government, and the citizenry shut down those who began to accuse the IDF soldiers of negligence and worse, but then Iris Haim, the mother of one of the slain hostages, Yotam, made a plea to the unit that killed her son requesting they not lose their will to fight, that she understands the impossible task they confront, and she forgives them.
I will first share a video of the speech Iris Haim delivered to the IDF unit [Hebrew with English subtitles] and a response from one of the soldiers so addressed.
This will be followed by what we know now about the situation in which the three hostages were killed and the immediate responses of some Israelis that, if not braked, could have led the country down the slippery slope to vicious infighting. I show the latter because it emphasizes the Israel in which I take pride.
Finally, I show videos of speeches Iris gave in London and Australia, when she went to impress upon the people and leadership of those nations the imperitiveness of bringing the hostages back home. These are even more poignant now.
Let me summarize Iris Haim’s words:
I love and embrace you from afar. What happened is not your fault or the fault of anyone but Hamas.
Take care of yourselves. Don’t hesitate for a moment. If you see a terrorist – don’t think twice, shoot. Defend yourselves. Only that way you can protect us!
You are invited to visit us in our home.
Hear the entire speech in the post below, or read the English subtitles.
Can’t stop the tears: mother of Yotam Haim, the hostage who was killed by mistake in Gaza, sent this voice note to the Israeli soldiers from that incident ???? pic.twitter.com/2YA33A85rl
— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) December 20, 2023
This was followed shortly by a response from a soldier. The post reads (so you don’t have to open it yourselves):
More on the remarkable mother of Yotam Haim, may his memory be a blessing, the hostage tragically killed by IDF fire:
A soldier from the same battalion visited the grieving family and expressed gratitude to Yotam’s mother: “We were mentally shattered after the tragedy, but your message gave us strength and helped us regain our composure and functioning.”
Iris responded: “That’s incredible. It’s exactly what I intended. And if you need further support, just reach out, and I’ll be there.”
Unbelievable strength. A remarkable mother figure for us all
More on that ????????https://t.co/Cr4SJPADBR
— Adam Albilya – אדם אלביליה (@AdamAlbilya) December 21, 2023
An initial negative response on “X” to the news of the deaths of Yoram, Samar and Alon and some of the comments this post drew:
Carrying a white flag, no shirts, no weapons, shouting ‘help!’. Why were they shot??
Maybe because Kahanist and populist ministers publish statements day and night that “there are no innocents in Gaza”? So then they tend to shoot everyone they see?
It is true that it is easy to talk in retrospect and from a distance, but according to the initial investigation, they violated the open-fire instructions, which were written in blood. The BenGvirist spirit has also permeated the army, and the price is terrible.
נשאו דגל לבן, ללא חולצה, ללא נשק, צעקו הצילו. למה הם נורו??
אולי כי שרים כהניסטים ופופוליסטים מפרסמים יומם וליל הצהרות ש״אין חפים מפשע בעזה״? אז נוטים לירות בכל מי שרואים?
נכון שקל לדבר בדיעבד ומרחוק, אבל לפי התחקיר הראשוני הם הפרו את הוראות הפתיחה באש, שנכתבו בדם. הרוח…
— Nava Rozolyo נאווה רוזוליו????????♀️???????????? (@rozolyo) December 16, 2023
Some of the comments included:
- It’s hard to know what the soldiers were feeling when we know that error of judgement can mean they lose their lives in an instant.
- No! No! No! Stop it! This is the worst thing one could write now. Just, no!
- Don’t judge soldiers in a battle field with their dead commarades around them, attacked and attacking all the time.
- How many battle fields were you in?
- Because they are in enemy territory, afraid of what is behind every window and every tunnel shaft
- This was a tragic incident that should never be repeated, but you blame soldiers who just yesterday had a terrorist blow himself up on them in a similar situation?
- Leave your politics out of this.
Similar responses ensued when anyone I saw on Israeli television started to blame the IDF or the particular soldiers. Since then, I have only heard expressions of excrutiating pain both for the families of the hostages and for the soldiers who killed them.
Me? Every time I think about the incident, I am immediately overwhelmed by the picture we should have seen — of the soldiers escorting the hostages out of the battlefield and back into their families’ arms. A tiny moment. And it was gone.
From a number of sources, I glean that the forces had apparently cleared the area of terrorists, but that it is known that terrorists can seep back in behind the soldiers’ backs. The unit was warned about the high likelihood of ambushes on the part of terrorists in civilian clothing and they were aware that traps were set for the IDF in the form of recordings in Hebrew and of babies crying.
The GoPro camera recording on a combat dog that entered a building near where the hostages were killed may have been enough to alert the IDF to the presence of the hostages had it been examined before that day. It turns out that, five days earlier, the dog entered a building where terrorists were staying. The terrorists killed the dog and the IDF killed the terrorists. The dog’s GoPro continued recording even after the dog had died. On it, the voices of the hostages can be heard. It is now believed that they managed to run after the terrorists were killed.
Two questions arise for me here:
- Why did the hostages not exit the building and approach the soldiers at the moment the terrorists were killed?
- Why did it take so long for the IDF to listen to the dog’s GoPro recording? Perhaps one should also ask why the camera recording was not observed/listened to live?
And from non-Israelis?
There is really no need to share the social media posts that used this event to scorn Israel and the IDF. But I will anyway. One “X” post says:
They were all shirtless. One Israeli hostage held a white flag while another called for help in Hebrew – but IDF killed them anyway, because that’s what they do to Palestinians.
Iris Haim ‘on tour’
On Australian TV when she was there with a delegation of hostage families sent to meet with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and other government leaders.
Giving a speech in London at a demonstration.
Feature Image is a screenshot from the “X” post by Hen Mazzig in which he added English subtitles to the audio recording of the words of Iris Haim to the IDF soldiers.