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Israel recovers bodies of Shani Louk, Amit Buskila, Yitzhak Gelerenter

hostage bodies

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the losses are ‘heartbreaking.’

By Andrew Bernard, JNS

Israel recovered the bodies of 22-year-old Shani Louk, 28-year-old Amit Bouskila and 56-year-old Itzhak Gelerenter during an overnight operation in Rafah, in southern Gaza, according to multiple official Israeli sources.

The three hostages, all of whom attended the Nova music festival, were killed on Oct. 7, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Their bodies have now returned to Israel.

“The bodies of the abductees were recovered during a joint operation by the IDF forces and the Shin Bet’s operational unit, based on information that also emerged in the Shin Bet’s investigations of terrorists arrested in the Gaza Strip and under the intelligence guidance of the Captives and Missing Persons Command of the Intelligence Division,” the IDF wrote in Hebrew.

It added that medical officials at the National Institute of Forensic Medicine and the Ministry of Health identified the bodies. “IDF representatives notified their families during the day,” the Israeli military said. “The IDF and Shin Bet share in the grief of the families at this difficult time.” (The Shin Bet is the Israel Security Agency.)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the losses are “heartbreaking.”

“My wife Sara and I grieve with the families; all of our hearts are with them in their hour of heavy sorrow,” he stated.

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

Lt. Col. (res.) Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesman, wrote that the moment was “bittersweet” and “not just about closure. It is about justice and humanity.”

“When we bring our fallen home, we reaffirm our commitment to these principles. We send a clear message to Hamas and the world that we will not abandon our own, that we will stand by each other in life and in death,” he said. “These are our values.”

“In these moments of heartbreak and loss, we also find hope. Hope in the determination of our forces, the unwavering spirit of our men and women, and in the enduring power of our resolve,” Lerner said.

“We will bring our loved ones back. Shani, Itzik and Amit will be laid to rest in the soil they called home, and in doing so, we will honor their memory and reaffirm our commitment to bring back all of our hostages,” he added.

A dual German-Israeli national, Louk was declared dead in late October after the Israeli ZAKA victim-identification team recovered a fragment of her skull. The fates of the other two victims were previously unknown.

Photographs and videos of Louk’s body being taken into Gaza were among the most harrowing and controversial images of Oct. 7.

Videos showed a half-naked woman, seemingly unconscious and face-down in the back of a pickup truck in Gaza filled with armed men. Louk’s mother identified her in the video based on her tattoos and dyed hair.

In April, U.S. and Israeli officials condemned the University of Missouri after its Reynolds Journalism Institute awarded the Associated Press and photographer Ali Mahmud a first-place prize for his image of Louk’s corpse.

“This photo captures Hamas terrorists desecrating the body of Shani Louk, may her soul rest in peace,” wrote Danny Danon, a member of the Knesset.

“Yet the AP news agency proudly received an award for it. Their continued pride in their photographers’ ‘work’ and involvement in the atrocities is shameful.”

That photo and other images taken by Gaza-based photographers and published by news outlets on Oct. 7 raised questions about the ethics of recording images of atrocities and accompanying gunmen during an ongoing terrorist attack.

We are devastated to share that the @IDF recovered the bodies of three Israeli hostages who were kidnapped from the Nova Festival and held by Hamas in Gaza.

Amit Bouskila (28)
Shani Louk (23)
Itzhak Gelerenter (53)

There are no words.

May their memory be a blessing.

— Israel ישראל (@Israel) May 17, 2024

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