Israeli army seizes bodies of three hostages from Gaza

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The Israeli army said Friday that troops had recovered the bodies of three hostages in the war-torn Gaza Strip who had been “murdered” by their captors on October 7.

“Last night, the [Israeli army] rescued the bodies of our hostages Shani Louk, Amit Buskila and Itzhak Gelerenter,” military spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a televised address.

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The Israeli citizens “were taken hostage during the Hamas massacre on October 7 and murdered” during the bloody attack on the Nova music festival, he added.

Thousands of young people had gathered on October 6 and 7 to dance to electronic music at the festival, which was held near the Re’im kibbutz close to the Gaza border.

Fighters from Palestinian militant group Hamas crossed over and killed more than 360 people at the festival, Israeli officials have said.

“This terrible loss is heart-breaking... We will return all of our hostages, the living and the deceased alike,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement after the announcement.

The Nova festival victims accounted for nearly a third of the around 1,170 people killed in the October 7 attack, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

Out of the 252 people taken hostage that day, 125 are still being held inside the Gaza Strip, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel has launched a retaliatory offensive against Hamas that has killed at least 35,303 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data from the territory’s health ministry.

The Hostages Families Forum said the recovery of the bodies was a “painful and stark reminder that we must swiftly bring back all our brothers and sisters from their cruel captivity.”

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Louk, a 22-year-old Israeli-German dual national, was identified in online videos showing a woman lying face down in the back of a pick-up truck filled with armed men, before being announced dead later in October.

The last sign of life of Buskila, who was also captured while partying at the festival, was a call to her uncle Shimon, who heard his niece beg her kidnappers not to take her away.

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