Body of Israeli hostage kidnapped in October recovered from Gaza, says IDF

Ron Benjamin, 53, was riding his bike in southern Israel when he was taken hostage during the 7 October attack

Alexander Butler,Holly Evans
Saturday 18 May 2024 19:42 BST
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Ron Benjamin was recovered alongside three other murdered hostages discovered in Gaza on Friday
Ron Benjamin was recovered alongside three other murdered hostages discovered in Gaza on Friday (Hostage and Missing Families Forum)

The body of an Israeli hostage captured by Hamas militants while on a cycling trip has been recovered from Gaza, the Israeli military said.

Ron Benjamin, 53, was found alongside hostages Itzhak Gelerenter, 56, Amit Buskila, 28, and Shani Louk, 22 - whose repatrations were announced on Friday.

Announcing the discovery of Mr Benjamin’s body on Saturday, chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said he was “brutally murdered by Hamas terrorists and his body was kidnapped to Gaza”.

Mr Benjamin was riding his bike in Kibbutz Be’eri in southern Israel when he was taken hostage during Hamas’s 7 October attack.

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum said he was a “family man who loved cycling” and that he “used to go out for a ride every Saturday, just as he did on that fateful Saturday when he was taken hostage”.

Mr Benjamin was discovered alongside Itzhak Gelerenter, 56, Amit Buskila, 28, and Shani Louk, 22 - whose deaths were announced yesterday
Mr Benjamin was discovered alongside Itzhak Gelerenter, 56, Amit Buskila, 28, and Shani Louk, 22 - whose deaths were announced yesterday (AP)

A photo of 22-year-old Shani Louk’s body in the back of a pickup truck went viral around the world in the aftermath of the attack, and brought to light the tragic scale of the militants’ assault on communities in southern Israel.

The other two bodies were identified by the Israeli military as those of a 28-year-old woman, Amit Buskila, and a 56-year-old man, Itzhak Gelerenter.

All three were killed by Hamas at the Nova music festival, an outdoor dance party near the Gaza border, and their bodies were taken into the Palestinian territory.

On Friday, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deaths “heartbreaking” saying: “We will return all of our hostages, both the living and the dead.”

Shani Louk’s father said the return of her body to her family had offered a form of closure. He told Haaretz that his daughter “radiated light, to her and those who surrounded her, and in her death she still does”.

Tattoo artist Shani Louk was kidnapped and killed after Hamas gunmen attacked a music festival
Tattoo artist Shani Louk was kidnapped and killed after Hamas gunmen attacked a music festival (Sourced)

“She is a symbol of the people of Israel, between light and darkness. Her inner and outer beauty that shone for all the world to see is a special one.”

He said: “The tormented soul knows that there is a hole in the heart somewhere in Gaza. Today we got a final answer.”

Around 1,200 people were killed in an unprecedented and shocking attack when Hamas gunmen burst through the border in October last year. The attackers took an estimated 252 others back to Gaza as hostages.

Half of those have since been freed, most of them during a weeklong ceasefire in November when an agreement was reached for their release in return for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

It is believed that around 100 hostages are still being held captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of around 30 more.

Meanwhile, Israel’s retaliatory war on the small territory has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to officials in the Hamas-run health ministry.

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