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    Wednesday, June 19, 2024

    Israeli army finds bodies of 3 hostages in Gaza killed at Oct. 7 music festival

    This combo from photos provided by Hostages Families Forum Headquarters shows from left, Itzik Gelernter, Shani Louk and Amit Buskila. The Israeli military said Friday, May 17, 2024, its troops in Gaza found the bodies of the three Israeli hostages killed by Hamas during its Oct. 7, 2023 attack, including German-Israeli Shani Louk.(Hostages Families Forum Headquarters via AP)

    Jerusalem — The Israeli military said Friday its troops in Gaza found the bodies of three Israeli hostages killed by Hamas during its Oct. 7 attack, including German-Israeli Shani Louk.

    A photo of 22-year-old Louk's twisted body in the back of a pickup truck ricocheted around the world and brought to light the scale of the militants’ attack on communities in southern Israel. The military identified the other two bodies as those of a 28-year-old woman, Amit Buskila, and a 56-year-old man, Itzhak Gelerenter.

    All three were killed by Hamas while fleeing the Nova music festival, an outdoor dance party near the Gaza border, where militants killed hundreds of people, military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said at a news conference.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deaths “heartbreaking,” saying, “We will return all of our hostages, both the living and the dead.”

    The military said the bodies were found overnight, without elaborating, and did not give immediate details on where they were located. Israel has been operating in the Gaza Strip's southern city of Rafah, where it says it has intelligence that hostages are being held.

    Hamas-led militants killed around 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and abducted around 250 others in the Oct. 7 attack. Around half of those hostages have since been freed, most in swaps for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel during a weeklong cease-fire in November.

    Israel says around 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of around 30 more. Israel's war in Gaza since the attack has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials.

    Netanyahu has vowed to both eliminate Hamas and bring all the hostages back, but he’s made little progress. He faces pressure to resign, and the U.S. has threatened to scale back its support over the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

    Israelis are divided into two main camps: those who want the government to put the war on hold and free the hostages, and others who think the hostages are an unfortunate price to pay for eradicating Hamas. On-and-off negotiations mediated by Qatar, the United States and Egypt have yielded little.

    Passersby observe the photos of hostages held in the Gaza Strip that are plastered to the walls of a plaza known as Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, May 17, 2024. The Israeli military said Friday its forces rescued from Gaza the remains of three Israeli hostages taken by militants during the Oct. 7 attack, including 22-year-old German-Israeli Shani Louk, 28-year-old Amit Buskila, and 56-year-old Itzhak Gelerenter. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty).
    FILE - Ricarda Louk sits in front of a placard of her missing daughter Shani Louk Tuesday Oct. 17, 2023, in Tel Aviv. The Israeli military said Friday, May 17, 2024, it found the bodies of three Israeli hostages in Gaza, including Louk. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)
    FILE - Palestinian militants drive back to the Gaza Strip with the body of Shani Louk, a German-Israeli dual citizen, during their cross-border attack on Israel, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. The Israeli military said Friday, May 17, 2024, it found the bodies of three Israeli hostages in Gaza, including Louk. (AP Photo/Ali Mahmud, File)
    People watch smoke rising to the sky after an explosion in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Friday, May 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
    People gather in the plaza known as Hostages Square after Israel's announcement that its military had recovered the bodies of three Israeli hostages in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, May 17, 2024. Israel said that the hostages, identified as Shani Louk, Amit Buskila and Itzhak Gelerenter, were killed by Hamas during its Oct. 7 attack and their bodies were then brought to Gaza. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    Passersby observe the photos of hostages held in the Gaza Strip that are plastered to the walls of a plaza known as Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, May 17, 2024. The Israeli military said Friday its forces rescued from Gaza the remains of three Israeli hostages taken by militants during the Oct. 7 attack, including 22-year-old German-Israeli Shani Louk, 28-year-old Amit Buskila, and 56-year-old Itzhak Gelerenter. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty).
    Passersby observe the photos of hostages held in the Gaza Strip that are plastered to the walls of a plaza known as Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, May 17, 2024. The Israeli military said Friday its forces rescued from Gaza the remains of three Israeli hostages taken by militants during the Oct. 7 attack, including 22-year-old German-Israeli Shani Louk, 28-year-old Amit Buskila, and 56-year-old Itzhak Gelerenter. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty).

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