Israel found the bodies of three hostages captured on October 7: Latest update

Israeli forces have found the bodies of three Israeli hostages captured as they fled a music festival during a Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on October 7, the Israeli military announced on Thursday. Six.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman, identified the bodies as those of Amit Buskila, Shani Louk and Yitzhak Gelernter. He said the Israeli army found the bodies during an operation in Gaza on Thursday night, but did not say where they were found.

Admiral Hagari said all three had attended the Tribe of Nova trance music festival on October 7, where at least 360 people died. During the attack, they fled the festival and headed towards Mefalsim, a kibbutz in southern Israel. Admiral Hagari said Palestinian fighters found them there, killed them and brought their bodies back to Gaza.

This combination of photos, provided by the Hostage Family Forum Headquarters, shows Yitzhak Gelernter, Shani Louk and Amit Buskila.Credit…Hostage Families Forum headquarters, via Associated Press

The discovery of remains highlights growing anxiety among hostages’ relatives about how many of their loved ones are still alive after seven months of war in Gaza. A growing number of Israelis have criticized the Netanyahu government for doing too little to reach an agreement with Hamas to secure the release of the remaining detainees.

According to Israeli authorities, approximately 125 living and dead hostages kidnapped on October 7 remain in Gaza, including several American citizens. Israel and Hamas have held indirect negotiations aimed at reaching an agreement to free at least some hostages in exchange for a ceasefire.

In Washington on Friday, John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, said there was no new information about the health condition or whereabouts of the handful of Americans arrested on October 7.

Ms. Louk, a 23-year-old German-Israeli citizen, has become a symbol of the brutality of the devastating attack. Shortly after October 7, Hamas released a video showing a woman lying face down, nearly nude, in the back of a pickup truck in Gaza. Based on the curls and tattoos, Ms. Louk’s mother said she believes it is her daughter.

At the end of October, Ms. Louk’s family said Israeli authorities had confirmed she was murdered. Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, publicly mourned her death, said at the time that it “shows the utter barbarism behind the Hamas attack – who is responsible.”

Ms. Buskila, who was 27 when she was kidnapped, called her family the morning of the attack, whispering to them that she was “surrounded by terrorists,” her uncle, Shimon Atiyas, said. to Israeli television in late October. “She told me: ‘Shimon, I’m about to die, I love you.’ After that, we did not receive any information about her fate.”

Mr. Gelernter, who went by the nickname Itzik, was a resident of central Israel who turned 56 on October 7. His son, Asaf, described him in an interview with Israeli media in February as a devoted father and grandfather who was loved by many. “He was young at heart,” Asaf Gelernter said. He added, “He enjoyed life, he loved life.”

In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel mourned the “terrible loss” of three hostages. “We will return all our hostages, both living and dead,” Netanyahu said.

A senior Hamas official, Izzat Al-Rishq, refused to confirm whether the hostages had actually been recovered by Israel, but said on the messaging app Telegram: “If there is not an exchange of dignity of the people and our resistance, the enemy will only receive his prisoners.” like lifeless corpses.”

In a statement, the Israeli military said Israeli soldiers and intelligence officers found the bodies of the hostages in a mission based on intelligence obtained from questioning detained Palestinian militants. hold.

For months, Israel and Hamas have been negotiating indirectly through mediators on a ceasefire that would secure the release of the remaining hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. In late November, 105 hostages were freed during a week-long truce between the two sides.

Just two weeks ago, officials familiar with the negotiations expressed hope that a deal could be reached soon. But talks have stalled and the two sides remain far apart on key issues, including Israel’s insistence that it still plans to carry out a major offensive on the southern city of Rafah. .

Hostage Families Forum headquarters said: “The return of their bodies is a painful and clear reminder that we must quickly bring all our brothers and sisters back from captivity their cruelty – live to recover and the murdered to be given a proper burial.” The group represents many relatives of those arrested.

Katie Rogers Contribution from Washington.

An adjustment has been made

May 17, 2024


Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated Shani Louk’s age. She is 23 years old, not 22.

How we handle edits


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