Israeli Military Recovers Bodies of 3 Festival-Goers Slain By Hamas

Noam Galai/Getty Images
Noam Galai/Getty Images

The Israeli army has recovered from a Gaza tunnel the bodies of three hostages who died on Oct. 7 while fleeing the Hamas attack at Israel’s Nova music festival.

The bodies of Shani Louk, 23, Amit Bouskila, 28, and Itshak Gelernter, 57, were recovered and identified by Israeli soldiers, IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters during a press conference. All three of the hostages were attending the Nova music festival on Oct. 7 when Hamas attacked, and all three were killed while trying to escape the massacre.

“They were celebrating life in the Nova music festival and they were murdered by Hamas,” Hagari said. He added that the bodies had been transferred to medical professionals for forensic examination.

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Louk was previously believed to be dead by the Israeli authorities. A disturbing image of her semi-nude body gruesomely displayed on the back of a Hamas truck went viral, demonstrating the brutality of the Oct. 7 attack. Weeks later, the IDF said it had located a fragment of her skull from the festival grounds.

“No father would want to hear this news,” Nissim Louk, Shani’s father, said in a statement. “We knew that she was murdered. Today the army officers came to our house and told us the news.”

“Her happy life was cut short. She was a special person.”

The bodies of Louk, Bouskila, and Gelernter were found together in a Gaza tunnel, Hagari said, although he didn’t specify where beneath the Strip they were found.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his condolences on X. “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 wrote in Hebrew.

Netanyahu, who has for months faced criticism from Israeli citizens who accused him of abandoning the hostages held by Hamas, vowed to bring the remaining captives home.

“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 said.

Some 240 people were taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7, in the wake of the deadly massacre that killed 1,200 Israelis. About 100 of the hostages were returned in November during a weeklong ceasefire, but the IDF believes there are still about 130 remaining in Gaza, 40 of whom they believe to be dead.

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For weeks, a ceasefire deal that included the return of the hostages seemed possible, though talks negotiated by mediators in Egypt had dragged on for months.

Last week, Hamas accepted a ceasefire deal proposed by Egypt and Qatar, but Israel rejected that proposal and began to press its offensive into Rafah, where over one million Palestinians were believed to be sheltering.

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