IDF recovers bodies of three hostages taken from Nova music festival in Gaza tunnel

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The Israeli military announced Friday that it has recovered the bodies of three hostages from a tunnel in the Gaza Strip.

The hostages were identified as Shani Louk, Amit Bouskila, and Itshak Gelernter, IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a press conference in Tel Aviv. All three were killed while escaping the Nova music festival and their bodies taken into Gaza, he said.

“They were celebrating life in the Nova music festival and they were murdered by Hamas,” he said.

The bodies were identified by authorities and the families have been informed, Hagari said.

The bodies were transferred to medical professionals for forensic examination. The families were then notified, he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his grief in a post on X on Friday. “The heart breaks for the great loss. My wife Sara and I grieve with the families. All our hearts are with them in this hour of grieving,” he said.

“We will return all our hostages, the dead and the alive alike. I congratulate our brave forces who, with determined action, have returned our sons and daughters home,” he added.

Of the three hostages, only Louk had previously been confirmed dead by the Israeli government.

Her lifeless body was seen on video on the back of a Hamas truck after the music festival attack.

Around 240 people were taken hostage and moved to Gaza during Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel that also killed more than 1,200 people. A little more than 100 were freed during a release deal in November, but the IDF believes there are still 132 hostages being held in Gaza, 128 of whom were taken on October 7.

The IDF believed that of those 132 hostages, 40 are believed to be dead, including two who were taken in 2014.

A deal to secure the release of the remaining hostages has remained elusive for months, despite rounds of talks between Israeli and Hamas negotiating teams.

Last Friday, Hamas militants said Israel’s rejection of a ceasefire plan submitted by mediators at negotiations in Cairo had sent hostage release talks back to “square one.”

The statement came a day after the latest round of Gaza truce and hostage deal talks ended in Cairo, without a deal.

The militant group also accused Netanyahu of hindering the ceasefire talks, so as to use negotiations as a cover to attack the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated

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