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Israel-Hamas war: IDF says it has killed 3 hostages

Published December 15, 2023last updated December 15, 2023

Israel has said it mistakenly thought the three hostages were a threat. Meanwhile, Hamas shot rockets at Jerusalem for the first time in weeks. DW has the latest.

Israeli soldiers seen near the Gaza border
Israel has vowed to keep fighting until it wipes out Gaza's Hamas rulersImage: Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Israel says it has mistakenly killed 3 hostages
  • Israel to open Kerem Shalom crossing, allowing more aid into Gaza
  • Germany's Baerbock called for an end to 'humanitarian suffering' in Gaza

This live updates article has been closed. For the latest developments on the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza,please click here. 

Skip next section Netanyahu: 'This is an unbearable tragedy'
December 15, 2023

Netanyahu: 'This is an unbearable tragedy'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they accidentally killed three hostages during fighting in Gaza. 

"This is an unbearable tragedy, and all of Israel is grieving their loss this evening," Netanyahu said. "My heart goes out to the bereaved families at this difficult time.

 "I strengthen our courageous soldiers engaged in the sacred mission of bringing home our hostages, while risking their lives in doing so," he added. "Today, on this painful evening, we will dress our wounds, learn the lessons and continue the most important effort of bringing all the hostages home."    

Some 130 hostages remain in Gaza amid Israel's operation against Hamas, which is designated a terror organization by the US, Germany, EU and others. 

Hamas hostages suffered severe abuse: psychiatrist

The accidental killing could ramp up public pressure on Netanyahu to make a deal with Hamas to release the hostages it has in its captivity.    

Skip next section White House: Accidental killing of hostages 'hearbreaking''
December 15, 2023

White House: Accidental killing of hostages 'hearbreaking''

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said the accidental killing of three hostages in Gaza by Israeli forces was "tragic" and "heartbreaking."

He said President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident. 

"We don't have perfect visibility on exactly how this operation unfolded and how this tragic mistake was made," Kirby said. 

Skip next section Al Jazeera cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa killed in Gaza
December 15, 2023

Al Jazeera cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa killed in Gaza

Al Jazeera said Friday that its cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa had been killed in Gaza in an Israeli attack.

According to the Qatari network, Abu Daqqa, along with correspondent Wael Dahdouh, were reporting for Al Jazeera Arabic from school grounds in Khan Younis when the Israel strike occurred. Khan Younis is a major city in southern Gaza. 

Al Jazeera reported that Abu Daqa was a resident of Abasan al-Kabira near Khan Younis, and that he has four children.

Israel has not commented on the incident.

Before Abu Daqqa's death, at least 63 journalists had been killed since the conflict erupted between Hamas and Israel on October 7, according to the media freedom organization, The Committee to Protect Journalists.

Skip next section Baerbock calls for Arab countries to condemn Hamas 'terror'
December 15, 2023

Baerbock calls for Arab countries to condemn Hamas 'terror'

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock appealed to Arab countries to demand that Hamas disarm, saying attacks on Israel "continue on a daily basis from Hamas' side." 

"I therefore demand that all Arab countries clearly name Hamas's terrorism," Baerbock said after talks with her Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib in Berlin. 

Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by Germany, the European Union, the US and others. 

She also called on Arab countries to "use their channels of communication to secure the hostages' release." 

"And the Arab countries must clearly demand that Hamas lays down its weapons, so that Israel is not forced to continue to defend itself on such a massive scale," she said.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock move to shake hands with her Lebanesecounterpart, Abdallah Bou Habib, in Berlin
Baerbock hosted her Lebanese counterpart for talks in Berlin on FridayImage: picture alliance/dpa

However, the minister also said "the people in Gaza are living in hell," adding that Germany would be increasing its aid to Palestinians by €24 million, to roughly €203 million (about $221 million) in total.

Baerbock added that Israel "must better protect the civilians of Gaza and adjust its strategy." 

She described the broader security situation in the region, including on Israel's northern border to Lebanon, as a "highly dangerous powder keg."

She said she decried the attacks by the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia "in the strongest terms," adding that all sides must urge the group to stop "pouring oil on the fire." 

Lebanon's Abdallah Bou Habib struck a similarly strident tone at times. He argued that a solution for the Hezbollah-controlled border area would also involve concessions from Israel.

"We have a UN Security Council Resolution, 1701. We need it to be implemented — fully implemented, really. And, yes, Hezbollah has to do some things and Israel has to do other things, so that we can implement it fully. This is in the interest of people on both sides of the borders, and in the interest of strengthening the Lebanese government as well," he said.

He claimed that all Arab countries were ready for peace in the region and had agreed to terms in the past, but said "the peace would start with the Palestinians [...] their problem has to be solved before we can really witness peace."

Bou Habib went on to say that "what happened on October 7, the unfortunate thing that happened on October 7, could happen again in the future," unless the international community worked to prevent it. He argued that Hamas' attacks ultimately materialized "because of the lack of will in the international community to finish the peace process according to UN resolutions that started in 1948."

Skip next section IDF says it killed 3 Israeli hostages
December 15, 2023

IDF says it killed 3 Israeli hostages

Israel said Friday it inadvertently killed 3 hostages in the Gaza City district of Shijaiyah.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said its soldiers mistakenly identified three Israeli hostages as a threat.

"As a result," the post added, the soldiers "fired toward them and the hostages were killed."

Two of the victims were identified as Yotam Haim, who was taken from Kibbutz Kfar Aza, and Samer Talalka, who was taken from Kibbutz Nir Am. The IDF said it was withholding the third hostage's name at the family's request.

The bodies have been returned to Israel. 

"This is a tragic incident, the army bears full responsibility,"  Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said.

 The IDF said it was investigating the incident.

Israeli army 'mistakenly' kills 3 hostages in Gaza

Skip next section Hamas fires rockets at Jerusalem for first time in weeks
December 15, 2023

Hamas fires rockets at Jerusalem for first time in weeks

Rockets fired from Gaza head towards Israel against an orange sky
Multiple rockets were intercepted in central JerusalemImage: Clodagh Kilcoyne/REUTERS

Hamas on Friday said it shot rockets at Jerusalem, for the first time in weeks.

Hamas is classified as a terror organization by the US, Germany, EU and others.  

The rocket fire set off sirens in Jerusalem, but no injuries were reported.

"After 70 days of nonstop rocket fire throughout the country, as Shabbat comes in, sirens are sounding in Jerusalem," the Israel Defense Forces posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.   

It was the first time that rockets were believed to have been fired at Jerusalem since October 30.

Skip next section Lufthansa Group to restart flights to Israel
December 15, 2023

Lufthansa Group to restart flights to Israel

Germany's Lufthansa Group will resume its flights to Tel Aviv starting January 8, 2024. 

Lufthansa, which is headquartered in the western German city of Cologne, owns several other airlines apart from its namesake. These airlines include Swiss International Air Lines, low-cost carrier Eurowings and Brussels Airlines, among others.

Lufthansa Group will first "offer a total of 20 weekly connections to and from Tel Aviv," corresponding "to around 30% of the regular flight schedule."

Lufthansa also resumed its flights to the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on Friday.

Lufthansa suspended its flights to Israel following the October 7 terror attacks by Hamas. 

Skip next section Maersk halts Red Sea shipping off Yemen after Houthi attacks
December 15, 2023

Maersk halts Red Sea shipping off Yemen after Houthi attacks

Danish shipping giant A.P. Moeller Maersk said Friday it was ordering all its container ships set to pass through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait "to pause their journey until further notice."

The company said it was taking the decision in light of a near-miss involving one of its vessels on Thursday, and another involving a German-owned ship on Friday.

Attacks on ships in waters off Yemen have intensified in recent weeks, with the fire thought to originate from Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the country. The Houthis have themselves claimed some of the attacks. 

"The Houthi attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea must stop immediately," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Friday. 

You can read more on this story here

Skip next section Israel greenlights aid via Kerem Shalom crossing to Gaza
December 15, 2023

Israel greenlights aid via Kerem Shalom crossing to Gaza

Israel on Friday approved the temporary flow of aid into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing. The crossing facilitates the transport of goods from both Egypt and Israel into Gaza.  

This would allow more humanitarian supplies into Gaza amid a blockade from both Israel and Egypt.

Israel's cabinet "approved today a temporary measure of unloading the trucks on the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom crossing," the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. 

Richard Peeperkorn, the World Health Organization representative for the West Bank and Gaza, called the announcement "good news." He wants aid trucks to go everywhere in Gaza, not just the south where the crossing is located but also northern Gaza.

UN highlights dire humanitarian situation in Gaza

Skip next section Baerbock: Israel must adapt military strategy to protect civilians
December 15, 2023

Baerbock: Israel must adapt military strategy to protect civilians

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has called on Israel to adapt its military strategy to better protect civilians in the Gaza Strip, echoing similar demands from Washington.

"The humanitarian suffering in Gaza must finally end," Baerbock said during a press conference alongside her Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib in Berlin.

She added that Berlin demanded that all Arab countries call on the Palestinian militant group Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by Germany, the European Union, the US and others, to lay down its weapons and use their bargaining power to help free hostages held in Gaza.

Criticism of Israel's continual bombardment of Gaza has been growing louder in recent days, with aid agencies describing the situation on the ground as dire.

Skip next section German ambassador condemns security forces beating of journalist
December 15, 2023

German ambassador condemns security forces beating of journalist

Germany's ambassador to Israel has criticized Israeli security forces after video footage emerged of them purportedly beating a man who was identified by the Turkish news agency Anadolu as its photojournalist Mustafa Haruf.

Ambassador Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for former Chancellor Angela Merkel and previously a journalist himself, described the attack as "appalling and very worrying police behavior."

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Seibert asked, "In what way can it [the beating] possibly serve the security of the citizens of Israel?"

Video footage showed Haruf, who was carrying a camera, being threatened with live fire and brutally beaten by police officers in east Jerusalem.

The attack included repeated kicks to the head, while another soldier held him down.

Haruf was later hospitalized with serious head injuries, the Anadolu Agency reported.

Skip next section 2 Al Jazeera journalists hurt in Israeli drone strike, says reporter
December 15, 2023

2 Al Jazeera journalists hurt in Israeli drone strike, says reporter

Two Al Jazeera journalists were wounded on Friday by a missile fired from an Israeli drone in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, their colleague said.

Wael al-Dahdouh was injured by shrapnel to his hand and waist and was being treated, while Samer Abu Daqqa is still trapped at the site of the incident, according to fellow journalist Heba Akila, who was also reporting live from elsewhere in Khan Younis.

The journalists all work for Al Jazeera Arabic.

Al Jazeera cited witnesses as saying there was heavy shelling ongoing in the area.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the report.

Al-Dahdouh is a veteran Al Jazeera correspondent in Gaza whose wife, son, daughter and grandson were killed in an Israeli strike in late October, according to the Qatari broadcaster. 

Skip next section Israel says it destroyed Hamas command center in Gaza City
December 15, 2023

Israel says it destroyed Hamas command center in Gaza City

Israel has said it has captured and destroyed a command and control center used by a battalion from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in Gaza City.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, IDF Spokesman Avichay Adraee said soldiers had "eliminated saboteurs" and "destroyed a tunnel opening" where a militant "attempted to throw an explosive device towards our forces."

The information could not be independently verified.

The command center in Gaza's Shijaiyah district is seen as one of the last remaining Hamas strongholds in the territory. 

Israel estimates Hamas has a total of 24 battalions, each with around 1,000 members. 

The Israeli army also announced on Friday that it had killed more militants in Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip.

In a tunnel uncovered in Khan Younis, soldiers had reportedly found motorbikes used in the terror attacks on October 7. 

The IDF said it also destroyed a weapons warehouse and attacked a building used as a hideout by Hamas militants.

Skip next section DW correspondent: Israel carries out 'biggest raid' on Jenin since October 7
December 15, 2023

DW correspondent: Israel carries out 'biggest raid' on Jenin since October 7

Israel this week conducted its biggest raid on the West Bank city of Jenin and its refugee camp since Hamas launched its terror attacks on Israel on October 7.

The raid lasted almost three days and 12 people were killed, while dozens more were wounded, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

Israel said it captured several Hamas militants as part of efforts to root out the Palestinian Islamist group.

Reporting from Jerusalem, DW correspondent Rebecca Ritters said Friday that the operation lasted more than 60 hours.

"We saw bulldozers, weaponized drones and tanks being used. More than a thousand soldiers went from house to house, looking for weapons and [people with] links to terrorist organizations, carrying out gunfights with gunmen inside the camp," said Ritters.

The Israeli army continues to see Jenin as a "hotbed of terrorism" and said it would continue the raids until it roots out more Hamas operatives, she added.

"What you see in the aftermath of these raids is the near-total destruction of the streets as soldiers go through, looking for weapons. They often go house-to-house through the walls, leaving people pretty traumatized."

West Bank families equip children for life under occupation

Skip next section Israel's military recovers bodies of abducted soldiers
December 15, 2023

Israel's military recovers bodies of abducted soldiers

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have said they have recovered the bodies of two soldiers seized by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on October 7.

In one of two posts Friday on X, formerly known as Twitter, the IDF said the bodies of Corporal Nik Beizer and Sergeant Ron Sherman were discovered during operational activity in Gaza and returned to Israeli territory.

Both men were 19 years old.

"The IDF sends the families its heartfelt condolences and will continue to support them. Our national mission is to locate the missing and return all the hostages home," the statement from the military added.

In an earlier post on X, the IDF said it had recovered and returned to Israel the body of a 28-year-old French-Israeli hostage Elia Toledano.

The trio were among an estimated 240 people taken hostage during the Hamas attacks on Israel, the deadliest in the country's history.

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