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German-Israeli tattoo artist among three dead hostages recovered by Israel

Hamas killed the three civilians while they were escaping the October 7 Nova festival carnage, Israel says

The Israeli military has retrieved the bodies of three hostages from Gaza, chief military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said on Friday. 

Among them is a 22-year-old German-Israeli woman, Shani Louk, seen in a widely circulated Hamas hostage-taking video during the raid on the Nova Festival, an all-night musical event held near the Gaza border on October 7.

Louk’s parents told the Washington Post the day after the carnage that they recognized her tattoos and long dreadlocks in the footage, which was posted hours after the raid. 

It appeared to show her face-down and unconscious in the back of a pickup truck as militants surrounded her body, cheering. After watching the video, Louk’s mother posted a plea for “any help or any news” of her daughter. 

Initially it was believed that Hamas kidnapped Louk alive, but her mother told German media back in October that the Israeli military had confirmed the death after finding a part of her skull. However, it was hoped that the two other hostages were still alive.

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The other two deceased were identified as Amit Buskila, a fashion stylist, who was on the phone with her uncle during the carnage, and Yitzhak Gelernter, who reached the site a couple of hours before the attack.

Hagari said all three “were murdered by Hamas while escaping the Nova music festival… and their bodies were taken into Gaza”. He did not specify the location from where the remains were retrieved. Israeli media reported that the bodies were taken from a Hamas tunnel, and the military said it located them through “interrogations”. Israel is currently conducting a ground operation in the Gazan city of Rafah. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the soldiers conducting the military operation on Friday, calling the latest discovery “heart-breaking,” and reiterating a pledge to return all the remaining 129 hostages, “the living and the deceased alike”.

Hamas said that the other hostages will only be released through a ceasefire truce.

“The enemy will not get its prisoners except as lifeless corpses or through an honorable exchange deal for our people,” it said.

Fighting between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas, which has lasted more than seven months, was sparked by the Palestinian militant group’s surprise incursion into Israeli territory on October 7, 2023, which killed approximately 1,200 people. 

READ MORE: Israelis beg for help after family identified among Hamas hostages

Hamas also took over 200 hostages, half of whom were later released as part of prisoner exchanges.

Over 35,000 Palestinians have been killed and 78,755 wounded as a result of Israel’s retaliatory offensive in Gaza, according to health authorities in the enclave.

Qatar, one of the international mediators in the Israel-Hamas conflict, said this week that ceasefire talks had reached an impasse following the Israeli offensive in the city of Rafah. 

Israeli officials told news website Ynet last week that the negotiations had not completely collapsed, and that indirect talks would resume “if there are answers from Hamas that we can work with.”

May 18, 2024 at 06:44PM

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