🌏 Israel Mistakenly Kills Three Of Its Own Hostages, Thai Politician Jailed For Criticizing Monarchy And More

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The Israeli military has announced that it has mistakenly shot and killed three of its own hostages in Gaza.

Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari said on Friday Dec. 15 during a press briefing that the entire Israeli military mistakenly identified the three hostages, who had been kidnapped by Hamas, as a threat and fired on them, killing them.

Hagari named two hostages as Yotam Haim and Samer El-Talalqa, who were taken during Hamas’ attack on two kibbutzes during its Oct. 7 attack. The third hostage was later identified as Alon Shamriz.

An initial investigation into the incident found that the three men had been holding up white flags when they were shot.

“They’re all without shirts and they have a stick with a white cloth on it. The soldier feels threatened and opens fire. He declares that they’re terrorists, they (forces) open fire, two are killed immediately,” a military official said, according to Reuters.

The official said the third hostage was wounded and retreated into a nearby building where he called for help in Hebrew.

“Immediately the battalion commander issues a ceasefire order, but again there’s another burst of fire towards the third figure and he also dies,” the official said. “This was against our rules of engagement,” he added.

Israeli authorities said the incident occurred “in a combat zone” with Hamas, adding that it had encountered Hamas fighters without guns previously.

The Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum, which represents the families of hostages, said it shared in the “profound grief” of the families.

“Together with the entire people of Israel, I bow my head in deep sorrow and mourn the death of three of our dear sons who were kidnapped. My heart goes out to the grieving families in their difficult time,” Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

More On The Israel–Hamas War

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This Thai activist-turned-politician has been sentenced to six years in prison for criticizing the monarchy.

29-year-old Rukchanok Srinork, also known as “Ice”, rose to fame as an activist during the mass, pro-democracy protests that swept Thailand from 2020 to 2021.

She is a member of the progressive Move Forward party, which won the Thai elections earlier in 2023 but was blocked from taking power.

She was sentenced on Wednesday Dec. 13 over two posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, in 2020, before she joined Move Forward.

In one post, she said that the government was using its distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to promote the monarchy’s image.

The other post was a repost by another user that was “graphically worded”, according to Reuters.

In Thailand, it is illegal to insult, defame or threaten the king, the queen and other members of the royal family under the lèse-majesté law.

The court said that Ice had defamed the monarchy and showed “great malice” towards the king and sentenced her to six years.

She has since been released on bail for 500,000 baht, almost US$14,000, on the condition she does not repeat the offense and says she intends to appeal.

Rights groups say at least 262 people have been charged with insulting the monarchy since 2020.

In a landmark moment, Pope Francis has said that Catholic priests can bless same-sex couples.

In a document released on Monday Dec. 18, the Pope said that priests could offer blessings as long as they did not resemble marriage.

This means that blessings cannot be done during or in connection to ceremonies that resemble a civil or same-sex union.

There must also not be “any clothing, gestures or words that are proper to a wedding”.

This is because, in the eyes of the Catholic Church, marriage is still a union between a man and a woman.

However, the document said that the church should not deny same-sex couples requesting blessings.

It said that the blessings are about helping people increase their trust in God and a sign that God welcomes all.

This is the latest move from Pope Francis to welcome and include LGBTQ people in the Catholic church.

In 2013, he famously said he was not one to judge if an LGBTQ person was a believer, and in 2023 said that being LGBTQ is not a crime.

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