Israeli Forces Report Recovering Bodies of 3 Hostages Taken on Oct. 7

Israeli forces have recovered the bodies of three hostages held in the Gaza Strip following the Hamas attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

In a Friday afternoon press statement, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that Israeli troops had recovered three bodies in an overnight operation. The IDF said they believe the bodies are those of Shani Louk, Amit Buskila, and Yitzhak Gelernter.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that last night the Israel Defense Forces and ISA forces rescued the bodies of our hostages,” IDF Rear Adml. Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman said.

The spokesman said IDF personnel and members of Israel’s Shin Bet security service located and recovered the bodies as part of a joint operation.

The IDF assessed all three individuals were in attendance at the Nova Music Festival that took place on Oct. 7 when Hamas terrorists breached the Gaza-Israel barrier and proceeded to launch attacks across neighboring communities in southern Israel. The music festival was taking place near Re’im, an Israeli community located about four miles from the Gaza perimeter.

The IDF said Israeli intelligence assessments concluded all three individuals were likely killed during the Oct. 7 attacks and that Hamas terrorists then took their bodies back to the Gaza Strip.

Following the recovery operations, the IDF spokesman said Israeli medical professionals completed forensic examinations to identify the bodies.

“After the procedure was completed we notified their families,” Mr. Hagari continued.

“Our hearts go out to them, to the families, at this difficult time,” Mr. Hagari continued. “We will leave no stone unturned we will do everything in our power to find our hostages and bring them home we will not rest until we do.”

Mr. Hagari did not specify where Israeli forces located the bodies of these three hostages.

“This terrible loss is heart-breaking. My wife Sara and I grieve with the families; all of our hearts are with them in their hour of heavy sorrow,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a press statement on Friday following the IDF announcement.

“We will return all of our hostages, the living and the deceased alike,” the Israeli prime minister continued. “I commend our brave forces whose determined action has returned the sons and daughters to their own border.”

Many Hostages Remain in Gaza

Around 1,100 Israeli citizens and 71 foreign nationals were killed over the course of a complex series of Hamas-led attacks that took place over several hours across multiple Israeli communities on Oct. 7. Hamas gunmen and other militants aligned with the designated terrorist organization took around 250 more people back to the Gaza Strip as hostages to exchange.

Israeli military forces have been conducting combat operations across the Gaza Strip for the last seven months, in response to the Oct. 7 attacks. The Netanyahu government has vowed to eliminate Hamas and recover all hostages held in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas turned over 105 of the hostages in November, as part of a temporary ceasefire deal that also saw the release of 240 Palestinians who had been held in Israeli custody. Hamas has unilaterally released another four hostages, and Israeli forces freed another two hostages in a rescue operation in February.

Israeli forces fired on and killed another three hostages in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City on Dec. 15. This trio of hostages had reportedly been waving white cloths and calling for Israeli forces to save them at the time they were killed.

The Hamas side has claimed Israeli military actions in the ongoing fighting in the Gaza Strip has resulted in the deaths of additional hostages.

The Israeli side believes around 100 hostages may still be alive in the Gaza Strip, along with around 30 more deceased captives.

The hostages have been a key factor in ongoing negotiations to put a halt to the fighting. The Israeli side has argued for a temporary pause in the fighting, while Hamas has been reluctant to relinquish any more hostages without a more permanent ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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