Bodies of three Israeli hostages including tattoo artist Shani Louk recovered

The 22-year-old’s body was discovered by the Israeli military during its operations in Gaza

Holly Evans
Friday 17 May 2024 19:15 BST
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Bodies of three hostages recovered from Gaza Strip, IDF says

The bodies of three Israeli hostages taken by Hamas during the deadly 7 October attack have been discovered, including the remains of the German-Israeli tattoo artist Shani Louk.

A photo of the 22-year-old’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 have been identified by the Israeli military as those of a 28-year-old woman, Amit Buskila, and a 56-year-old man, Itzhak Gelerenter.

Bodies of three Israeli hostages have been recovered in Gaza
Bodies of three Israeli hostages have been recovered in Gaza (AP)

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, military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said at a news conference.

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.

Nissim Louk 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.”

In a statement, the IDF said the bodies had been recovered in an operation overnight. It said it had acted on intelligence gleaned from “interrogations of terrorists” who had been detained in Gaza.

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.

Louk’s mother pictured during a press conference about the hostages
Louk’s mother pictured during a press conference about the hostages (AP)

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.

Alin Atias, right, holds a picture of her daughter Amit Buskila
Alin Atias, right, holds a picture of her daughter Amit Buskila (AP)

Mr Netanyahu has vowed both to eliminate Hamas and to bring all the hostages back, but he has made little progress. He is under pressure to resign, and the US has threatened to scale back its support because of 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 limited results thus far.

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