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Three more hostages’ bodies recovered: Israel’s Army

18-05-2024

JERUSALEM: Israeli forces have recovered the bodies of three hostages from Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) say.

The bodies were those of Shani Louk, Amit Buskila, and Itzhak Gelerenter, it said. The IDF said they had been murdered on 7 October and their remains taken back to Gaza.

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 called the news “heart-breaking”.

“We will return all of our hostages, the living and the deceased alike,” he said.

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.

It said the three victims had been killed at an intersection near the site of the Nova festival massacre in southern Israel, before their bodies were taken to Gaza.

More than 360 people were killed at the festival. About 125 hostages remain unaccounted for, with the others having been released or rescued.

The Hostages Family Forum, a group bringing together relatives of those being held, said they “bow their heads in deep sorrow and with broken hearts following the announcement”. They said the three had been killed by “Hamas terrorists”, adding “may their memories be a blessing”.

Under a deal agreed in November, Hamas released 105 hostages in return for a week-long ceasefire and some 240 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

It is not clear how many of those unaccounted for are still alive.

Following the IDF’s announcement, the armed wing of Hamas said the captives they hold would return only through an “honorable exchange deal for our people”.

Long-running talks in Cairo aimed at securing a truce and further hostage releases are currently stalled.

After the 7 October attacks, Israel launched an offensive in Gaza that has killed more than 35,000 people, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

About 2.2 million Palestinians are facing chronic food shortages and are in urgent need of shelter and other assistance, the UN says.

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