THE Israeli military mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages during its ground operation in the Gaza Strip, military officials have said.

The army’s chief spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said Israeli troops found the hostages on Friday and erroneously identified them as a threat. He said it was not clear if they had escaped their captors or been abandoned.

The deaths occurred in the Gaza City area of Shijaiyah, where troops have engaged in fierce battles against Hamas militants in recent days.

He said the army expressed “deep sorrow” and was investigating.

The deaths were announced as a US envoy said the US and Israel were discussing a timetable for scaling back intense combat operations in the war against Hamas, even though they agree the overall fight will take months.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan also met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the besieged enclave’s post-war future, which, according to a senior US official, could include bringing back Palestinian security forces driven from their jobs in Gaza by Hamas in its 2007 takeover.

The Qatar-based television network Al Jazeera said on Friday that an Israeli strike killed one of its journalists in Gaza, Palestinian cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa.

The strike also wounded the network’s chief correspondent in Gaza, Wael Dahdouh. The two were reporting on the grounds of a school in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis when the strike hit, the network said.

Before Abu Daqqa’s death, at least 63 journalists have been killed since the conflict erupted between Hamas and Israel on October 7, according to the media freedom organisation, The Committee to Protect Journalists. They include 56 Palestinians, four Israelis and three Lebanese.

Dahdouh, a veteran of covering Israel-Gaza wars, was wounded by shrapnel in his right arm.