IDF Recovers Three Hostages’ Bodies From Gaza

International Desk

Published: 18 May 2024, 10:33 am

IDF Recovers Three Hostages’ Bodies From Gaza. Photo: Collected

IDF Recovers Three Hostages’ Bodies From Gaza. Photo: Collected

The Israeli military announced Friday that it has recovered the bodies of three hostages from the Gaza Strip. The hostages were identified as Shani Louk, Amit Bouskila, and Itshak Gelernter, IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a press conference in Tel Aviv. All three were taken hostage on October 7 and were killed while escaping the Nova music festival and their bodies taken into Gaza, the IDF said.

“They were celebrating life in the Nova music festival and they were murdered by Hamas,” he said.

Local media reported that the bodies were found in a Hamas tunnel.

About 1,200 people were killed in an unprecedented attack when Hamas gunmen burst into Israel. They took 252 others back to Gaza as hostages.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his grief in a post on X on Friday. “The heart breaks for the great loss. My wife Sara and I grieve with the families. All our hearts are with them in this hour of grieving,” he said.

“We will return all our hostages, the dead and the alive alike. I congratulate our brave forces who, with determined action, have returned our sons and daughters home,” he added.

In a statement, the IDF said the bodies had been recovered in an operation overnight. It said it had acted on intelligence gleaned from "interrogations of terrorists" who had been detained in Gaza.

Meanwhile the bodies were identified by authorities and the families have been informed, Hagari said, adding that the bodies had been transferred to medical professionals for forensic examination.

But Hagari did not disclose where the bodies were found during the press conference. He said the bodies were recovered during a joint IDF and Shin Bet operation.

CNN analyst and Axios reporter Barak Ravid, citing an IDF spokesperson, reported the bodies were found in a tunnel in Gaza.

Nissim Louk, father of Shani Louk whose body was one of those recovered also told Israeli media his daughter’s body was very well preserved because it had been kept in a “deep and very cold tunnel”.

Of the three hostages, only Louk had previously been confirmed dead by the Israeli government.

The 23-year-old German-Israeli woman was declared dead by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in late October. A source involved with her identification told CNN Louk’s death was announced after forensic examiners found a bone fragment from her skull.

Louk’s family said they feel some closure now that her body has been recovered. In a statement given to CNN, the family said the IDF came to their house on Friday and informed them that they were able to rescue Louk’s body from a tunnel in Gaza and bring her back to Israel.

Around 240 people were taken hostage and moved to Gaza during Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel that also killed more than 1,200 people. A little more than 100 were freed during a release deal in November, but the IDF believes there are still 132 hostages being held in Gaza, 128 of whom were taken on October 7.

The IDF believed that of those 132 hostages, 40 are believed to be dead, including two who were taken in 2014.

A deal to secure the release of the remaining hostages has remained elusive for months, despite rounds of talks between Israeli and Hamas negotiating teams.

Last Friday, Hamas militants said Israel’s rejection of a ceasefire plan submitted by mediators at negotiations in Cairo had sent hostage release talks back to “square one.”

Hamas also accused Netanyahu of hindering the ceasefire talks, so as to use negotiations as a cover to attack the southern Gaza city of Rafah._CNN

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